I’ve always wondered how my overall heart health stacks up when you take all of my various risk factors into consideration. Are some risk factors greater than others? If I lower my cholesterol but am still twenty pounds overweight, how does that impact my heart health? In other words, how do I know what the real state-of-my-heart is and when do I start worrying?
The American Heart Association (AHA) has finally provided the answer to these questions in a simple, straight-forward, easy to use and more importantly, easy to understand format. For the first time in history, the AHA has provided us with a clear, measurable definition of what constitutes “ideal” versus “intermediate” or “poor” heart health. This definition of exactly what constitutes “ideal” heart health was developed to support the AHA’s 2020 Impact Goal.
The 2020 Impact Goal is two-fold: to reduce death from heart disease and stroke by at least 20 percent by the year 2020 and to improve overall heart health. I have to say that I’m impressed with the approach that the AHA is taking. With respect to heart disease, prevention is truly the best medicine and the AHA has chosen to accomplish their 2020 Impact Goals through improving our health and giving us tools and information to help prevent us from developing heart disease. I like it!
As a part of accomplishing the 2020 Impact Goal, the AHA has launched a marvelous website called “My Life Check” (www.heart.org/MyLifeCheck). On the My Life Check website, the AHA lays out the foundation of what constitutes good heart health as measured in seven key areas referred to as “Life’s Simple 7.” These key areas focus on areas of our lives where we can take control and make lifestyle changes which will not only improve our overall health but have a measurable impact on our heart health and long-term quality of life.
Life’s Simple 7 includes the following:
1. Get active
2. Eat better
3. Lose weight
4. Stop smoking
5. Control cholesterol
6. Manage blood pressure
7. Control blood sugar