Kentuckians can act to protect against heart disease and stroke; half of preventable deaths occur in adults age 65 or younger

By Molly Burchett
Kentucky Health News

Nearly one on three deaths in the U.S. each year is caused by heart disease and stroke. At least 200,000 of these deaths are preventable, and nearly half of those preventable deaths are of people under 65, says a new report.

What can you do to stop heart disease and stroke from killing you? Change your health habits, says the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s “Vital Signs” report. Changes can include quitting smoking, getting more physical activity and using less salt in your diet. Kentucky communities can also take preventive measures by creating healthier living spaces, such as smoke-free zones and safe places to exercise.

While the number of preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke has declined in people 65 to 74, it has remained virtually unchanged in those under 65, says the report. Men, particularly black men, are at a greater risk for dying early from these conditions. Overall, counties in Southern states, including Eastern and some parts of Western Kentucky, have the highest preventable death rates.

Map: Age-adjusted preventable death rates per 100,000 people from CDC “Vital Signs” 

To take action against the heart disease and stroke, risk factors should be considered. Adults in Kentucky have been found to have these risk factors for heart disease and stroke: high blood cholesterol, diabetes, overweight or obesity, not exercising regularly and not eating the suggested amount of fruit and vegetables.

If you have one of more of these risk factors, it is possible to reduce your risk of getting and dying prematurely from heart disease or a stroke. For example, you should work with your doctor on a treatment plan to control your high cholesterol and diabetes, and if you use tobacco, find resources to quit smoking.  It is also important to maintain a healthy diet and a weight, in addition to exercising for 2 hours and 30 minutes every week. (Click here to read more)

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