Originally published February 2020. Updated Feb 1, 2023.
I'll share health stats first then talk about solutions.
Alarming Heart Health Stats
Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of people in the United States?!
Let's look at some stats: In this chart, men have more rates of heart disease than women but women may die from it more than men. Heart disease is the top cause for pregnancy related deaths per studies done in California between 1996-2006 (N. Ostrow, Bloomberg, 17 Nov 2013).
As of 2017, men and women located in Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Alabama have the highest rates of heart disease in the entire nation. Why is that? Is it mainly because of lack of access to healthy foods, transportation issues, medical insurance coverage, ability to be seen in a timely manner, walkability in rural areas, at risk populations for said disease? Women, typically, put off calling for themselves - because symptoms are different in women than in men.
More women than men have died from heart disease each year for the past 30 years. And women are more likely than men to die after their first heart attack. (R. Maier, Healthline, 28 Feb 2014)
Why is this? Possibly because their doctors misdiagnose them. Or, women ignore or misinterpret their heart attack signs, such as:
+ chest pain or discomfort
+ upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach shortness of breath
+ nausea, light-headedness, or cold sweats
I reside in Kern County, California, and in early 2013, I published a paper (not available on my blog (I will link to it when it's published)) when finishing my Prime Time Health certification and it outlined the stats for my county with regards to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes; some of these stats are listed below.
As of 2006, one-third of deaths of females in California were due to heart disease. Do you think these stats are decreasing? Perhaps. It depends largely on the demographics and healthy food resources in each area.
In Kern County as of 2019, nearly 70% of the population is dealing with weight concerns - obesity or overweight which contributes to the health epidemic and increases healthcare costs. (This figure has increased nearly ten percent from 9 years ago.) When I first moved to Ridgecrest (NE corner of Kern County), I considered it to be a food desert but have always been thankful to have a smoothie & salad shop that serves some of the healthiest options in town! One of the local family-owned gyms partnered with several restaurants in town offering a lighter fare menu for clients and guests to enjoy.
About 5 years ago, we lost our food-sharing co-op that brought the weekly produce boxes to two pick-up locations in our area. For the last three years or so, we have a weekly farmers' market and there are a couple of family-owned produce companies that deliver their boxes to our front door. The one I use is Talley Farms. Mention my name (Jessica David) and get $ off your first delivery!
When it comes to having variety in the stores: one of the ways I do my part is by asking the grocery chains to lower their prices on organic produce ($3-4 a pound for organic apples is ridiculous!) and request that they carry certain brands. Things are changing but we have a long ways to go because the education on quality and source (reading and understanding ingredients) is few and far between but that's where a health coach can come in. Together, we can talk about the tools to better equip you the next time you shop at the grocery store!
The health of Kern County residents has become an alarming concern, given the following statistics from KernPublicHealth in 2019, 2022:
1 in 4 Kern County residents die from heart disease.
That's 3 people every day.
1 person every 8 hours.
Kern Co. is ranked 54th of 58 for most heart disease deaths in CA.
Costs Kern Co. residents $400 million each year!
This is alarming! But we can do something about this by being more mindful of our choices and also by being in tune with our bodies. Make a mindful shift in your thoughts when it comes to your wellness journey. Consider making baby steps for your improved health. Partner with practitioners that educate (and support your choices for) the quality and source of foods consumed. Refer to this blog post for more inspiration on taking baby steps for your wellness journey!
The Power of the Plant!
Plants do more than brighten a room, they are also good for your health. They promote clean air and help fight fatigue, stress, and headaches.
If a house plant has this kind of power, imagine what phytonutrients from real food plants can do!
Give yourself a plant (and plants) for National Heart Health month!
Best House Plants for Clean Air, visit A Breath of Fresh Air (see link).
When it comes to the best plants for clean vessels: vegetables and fruits are king!
What's all this talk about plants anyway? Everywhere you turn you hear folks touting the benefits of plants - both kinds, for your home and for your body. It's one of those topics that will never go away and the story doesn't change. It's time to embrace that plants promote health and well-being. And if you're feeling inspired, start a garden!
Eat the real rainbow (colorful, a variety) of fruits and vegetables every day. We can go beyond eating steamed peas and carrots.
I strongly feel that (real) food is the foundation of our wellness. I always look to food when I want to change how I feel - what to add in, what to reduce. And I listen to my body when I eat these foods to see if they align with my needs. I also keep a journal to record symptoms that are new or different from the usual stuff. It's good to have a record if anything should happen, it'll be easier to identify some patterns. I also write goals to increase movement in my journal so that I can be proud of completing the good-for-me task!
Call to Action
What steps will you take to increase cardiovascular (heart) wellness every day after learning about the stats and steps you can do? Here are some suggestions:
Add in more movement daily. Just 10-20 minutes of intentional and purposeful movement throughout the day. (Exercise 150 minutes every week for long-term mobility and strength.)
Be present in your thought process with regard to healthy lifestyle choices. What we focus on multiplies.
Make note of any unknown or unfamiliar symptoms and inform your practitioner in a timely manner.
Buy some plants to keep in your home to increase oxygen levels.
Eat more fruits and vegetables closest to their source. The order: fresh, frozen, then canned.
Work with a health coach to learn proven ways to increase your wellness through healthier lifestyle choices.
Supplement when necessary choosing products that meet your values and needs.
From the list above, which one might you start with? Please consider leaving a comment with what it is and when you'll begin.
Jessica David, NBC-HWC
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, or prevent any disease, condition, or ailment. This information is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Speak with your healthcare provider to see how/if it pertains to your individual needs.
The purpose of this blog is to offer support for your health goals. As of July 2022, Jessica David is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach. Jessica has ten years of coaching experience and you can consider her an encourager, someone in your corner, a friend, and a professional.
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