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Heart Smart Living
Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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The State of the Heart

I consider heart disease to be the elephant in the living room: a colossal crisis that won’t go away, shrink, or retreat, no matter how hard we try to ignore it. In fact, heart disease kills more Americans, men and women, than the next seven causes of death combined. More than six times as many women will die from heart disease than from breast cancer.

Although we often think of heart disease as something that happens to old folks, about 45 percent of heart attacks happen before the age of 65, and one in twenty occur in people under 40. Although technology and medications are saving more lives than ever, heart attacks are on the rise in women under 50, thanks primarily to our unhealthy lifestyles. Even scarier, we are now starting to see cholesterol buildup in the arteries of people in their teens and twenties. The cost of all this misery? Over $500 billion in 2010.

That’s the bad news. Here’s the great news: as much as 85 percent of cardiovascular disease is preventable. It is estimated that 70 percent can be attributed solely to lifestyle (including preventable high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol), and 15 percent to unavoidable but treatable risk factors. Perhaps 15 percent is pure genetics, although we also know that heredity can affect the way our bodies react to a wide range of risk factors.

What’ s more, living a heart healthy lifestyle will reduce your chances of erectile dysfunction and early menopause, strengthen your bones, reduce your risk o f depression, improve your productivity at work, and help you to look good and feel great.

In my upcoming Healthline posts, I will give you the tools you need to keep your heart strong and healthy, whether you are already living with heart disease, or are intent on preventing it. I would love to hear from you about the issues you find most compelling or confusing, and I look forward to helping you discover optimal health.

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Tags: Diet and Heart Health , High Blood Pressure , Kids' Heart Health , Men and Heart Health , Risk Factors for Heart Disease , Women and Heart Health

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About the Author


Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.