Heart DiseaseHeart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States and 17 percent of U.S. health spending, is estimated to affect 40 percent of U.S. adults or 116 million people, according to recent reports. We’ve all heard the messages about cardiovascular disease and other conditions: we need to take better care of ourselves by making healthy lifestyle choices. Messages are often framed from the perspective of health, but did you consider how much being unhealthy can impact your finances?
One study estimated that over the course of a person's lifetime, the cost of severe coronary artery disease -- the most common form of heart disease -- is more than $1 million. That includes both direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include medications, operations, diagnostic testing, and long-term medical expenses. Indirect costs might include lost wages from not working during recovery or loss of job altogether. There are some ways to help reduce the costs of cardiovascular disease.
- Eat more foods from vegetable sources and fewer foods from animal sources. It's a simple way of decreasing the unhealthy fats in your diet.
- Eat less salt. Sodium directly contributes to high blood pressure, which in turn leads to cardiovascular disease.
- Get more physical activity. Regular exercise can improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels, control weight, and reduce your risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, which could be 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity --such as brisk walking or biking -- five days of the week.
- Reduce stress. Researchers aren't sure how chronic stress contributes to heart disease, but the two are linked. Do what you can to reduce tension in your life. Try breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga to calm yourself.
- Go to the doctor annually for preventative tests to keep you on track for your health and for early detection of symptoms.
- Control other risk factors. If you have risk factors for heart disease --like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes -- work with your doctor to get them under control.