Preventive Health Care Gets a Boost

I’m always pushing preventive medicine: people can take strong lifestyle measures to literally stave off many diseases, including the biggies of heart disease and cancers. Now, the American Heart Association is seriously pushing prevention in a new campaign focusing on seven good habits. This is a nice shift from the typical emphasis on medicines and surgeries. They’re doing this mostly because of deep concern about the obesity epidemic, and they realize that throwing medicines at people isn’t getting to the root of the problem. The campaign is called Life’s Simple 7. Their seven steps are: get active; control cholesterol; eat better; manage blood pressure; lose weight; reduce blood sugar; and stop smoking. Their main goals are:

To attain “ideal” cardiovascular health, a person needs to have never smoked or not smoked for at least a year; eat a healthy diet; get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week; achieve a body-mass index of less than 25; maintain total cholesterol below 200, blood pressure below 120/80 and fasting blood sugar below 100.

How do you score? Don’t feel bad; under 5% of Americans would pass this exam.

Not sure where you fit on this risk spectrum? You can take a short survey on the AHA’s Simple 7 site to assess how close you are to ideal cardiovascular health at You’ll need to know your vital signs as well as recent blood test results for cholesterol and other basics.

Now’s also a good time to re-introduce my slide show on how to prevent heart attacks and strokes — without medicines.

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