Heart disease kills more Americans than COVID-19

Heart disease kills more Americans than COVID-19

By Dr. Elizabeth Klodas

For almost a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped our lives. It has turned lives upside down in big and small ways.

So it might come as a surprise that more Americans are killed by heart disease than by COVID-19. Yes, heart disease is still the No. 1 cause of death in this country.  Some equally shocking facts from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:

  • In the U.S., one person dies every 36 seconds from cardiovascular disease.
  • About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year.
  • Heart disease costs about $219 billion each year from 2014 to 2015 in health care services, medicines, and lost productivity due to death.

Those numbers are unlikely to improve during the ongoing health crisis. Unfortunately, it appears that the pandemic hasn’t been kind to many Americans’ healthy habits -- especially those habits that impact our hearts.

During stay-at-home orders, most people exercised less and consumed more sugary foods and drinks, according to a recent study published in the journal Obesity. Exercise built into people’s days via commutes and errands understandably vanished, but many people also dropped intense intentional exercise. Not surprisingly, the decrease in exercise combined with increase in junk food led to weight gain for 27 percent of the people surveyed. Of obese people, 33 percent gained weight.   

It’s understandable, of course, that many of us indulged our cravings as stress skyrocketed. Few of us would have guessed the pandemic and restrictions would go on long enough to worry about bad habits becoming permanent!

Almost a year later, it’s clear that we need a reboot. So, to honor American Heart Month, which kicks off next week, a year after the novel coronavirus was named COVID-19, let’s commit to restoring healthy heart habits. Here are some pandemic-friendly tips to get started:

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

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