Commentary: Commit to a healthier Delaware this Heart Month

Despite many efforts by health organizations, government assistance and grass-roots agencies, Americans are still suffering from excessive rates of cardiovascular disease. Heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of all Americans and kills approximately 2,500 Delawareans each year.

We know that simple things like eating healthy food, exercising and not smoking are what keeps us healthy. But are we doing enough to help our communities live longer healthier lives?

Over 20 percent of Delawareans live in what’s considered a “food desert” where residents have extremely limited access to healthy food. 29 percent of Delawareans are considered obese, with a BMI (body mass index) over 30, 40 percent of Delawareans live with high cholesterol, doubling our risk for heart disease, and 19 percent of Delawareans are smokers.

But, with the help of The American Heart Association, and other partner organizations, Delaware is looking towards a healthier future. This year, The Wilmington City Council approved a healthy beverages ordinance that requires restaurants in the city to offer water, milk, and 100 percent fruit juice as the default drink included in kids’ meals.

Our state should also look towards the six U.S. states who have passed Tobacco 21 laws, raising the age of tobacco purchases to 21.

Heart disease does not have to remain the No. 1 killer of all Americans. Heart Month reminds us to adopt these seven simple steps to a healthier lifestyle:

• Get active: AHA recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

• Eat better: Add fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein. Limit sugar, salt and processed meat.

• Lose weight: Strive for a body mass index (BMI) below 30.

• Control cholesterol: Eat smart and move more to control your levels.

• Manage blood pressure: Manage stress levels and eat well to positively influence your levels.

• Control blood sugar: Cut out added sugar, choose simple, healthy food.

• Quit smoking: There are no safe levels of smoking. Quitting can be the best thing you do for your health!

This February celebrate American Heart Month by striving to address at least one of the factors that contribute to your health. The American Heart Association in Delaware offers a variety of events and activities that can start you on the right direction to a longer, healthier life. Visit www.heart.org for community events, recipes, fitness tips and more.

Dr. Robin A. Horn, MD is mission chairman of the American Heart Association Delaware Board of Directors. Dr. Eric J. Gloss, DO, MMM, FACOEP is Bayhealth vice president of medical affairs and AHA Delaware board member.

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