The heart is a powerful organ, and one that is both vulnerable to poor lifestyle choices, but that can also be positively affected by healthy choices. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and with February being Heart Health Month, now is a great time to learn about heart health and start taking steps to extending your life.
While many people have a general understanding of what the heart looks like and how it functions, here are 17 heart-health facts that may surprise you, including anatomy, risk factors and the economic impact of heart disease on society.
Heart Anatomy and Physiology
- The heart is approximately the size of a fist, however this will depend on the condition of the heart. Persons with heart disease can have larger, swollen ventricles
- Arteries, or blood vessels, are approximately four millimeters in diameter
- The heart can pump 5.7 litres (1.5 gallons) of blood every minute
- On average, the heart beats 100,000 times a day, although this will vary by level of fitness and age
- The corneas are the only cells in the body that don’t get blood from the heart
- When an artery is blocked, it takes only 30 minutes for the related part of the heart muscle to start to die
The risk factors for heart disease are fairly well known, however many people still struggle to find motivation to improve their heart health.
- The main risk factors include physical inactivity, smoking, excessive alcohol use, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure
- Aortic stiffness, the stiffness of the largest blood vessel in the body, can be used to measure risk of developing cardiovascular disease and measure overall health
- Higher levels of aortic stiffness are a sign of aging but aortic stiffness is reversible with positive lifestyle choices
- According to some studies, being physically inactive can be riskier than smoking when it comes to heart health risks
- Recent studies have pointed to sitting as an independent heart disease risk factor
- Risk factors affect the biological age, or internal age, of the heart and body. More risk factors can make the heart act older than chronological age would dictate
Prevalence of Disease and Death
When looked at from the aggregate perspective, it’s clear that more needs to be done to help lower the likelihood of heart disease or related conditions.
- 17.9 million people around the world die every year from heart disease
- 31% of all deaths are from heart disease, with 85% being from heart attack and stroke
- 75% of deaths from cardiovascular disease happen in low- and middle-income countries
The biggest impact is certainly on the individuals and their families, but there is a huge financial impact as well.
- Globally, the cost of cardiovascular disease is expected to increase to $1,044 billion by 2030
- 55% of these costs are expected to be direct healthcare costs with the remaining 45% being attributed to losses in productivity
How to Get Healthier
With these stats in mind, it’s a good idea to take steps to get heart healthy today. By focusing on reducing the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke, individuals can improve their health and keep their hearts pumping as strongly as they should be. When it comes to heart health, preventive care is likely the best medicine.
Prevention is key to decrease risk of developing heart disease. There are many things you can do like eating healthier meals, engaging in more heart-healthy exercises, and tracking how your lifestyle choices are improving health and decreasing risk of developing cardiovascular disease. iHeart Internal Age™ is one such device that makes it easy to track and monitor the positive effects of healthy living. Learn more here.