Not everyone will agree with me, but I have often thought that Americans worry about the wrong things. Hmm…I suppose that statement sounds a wee bit judgmental, and maybe it is, but really–are you honestly in danger of being killed by a hurtling chunk of meteorite on any random day? What, truly, are your chances of being trampled by a runaway horse? (Although, come to think of it, I was taking a walk in my neighborhood a number of years ago and was startled to see a horse gallop across Candler Road.) Of course, the world landscape changes ever more quickly and it can be difficult, living as we do in an age of media saturation and a 24/7 news cycle, not to find ourselves wringing our hands and tempted by that always fascinating (and always unwinnable) game of what if…. This recent NPR article from the news magazine’s ongoing coverage of the devastating Ebola epidemic provides a timely reminder to those of us in the West (and elsewhere) that the thing that is most likely to kill us is our lifestyle.
There. I said it. Our lifestyle. Cardiovascular disease, mainly heart attacks and strokes, is the No. 1 killer worldwide. Worldwide. Much of this has to do with our lifestyle in the Western world and has become a reality for the rest of the globe as they increasingly adopt fast food, tobacco, and lack of physical activity as outsourced computer jobs lock workers to desks for hours at a time. Although I haven’t smoked in decades and have what I consider a very healthy diet, I received my own wake-up call recently when my doctor diagnosed high blood pressure. My family has a very strong (and stubborn!) genetic component–my mother has high blood pressure as did her father and many of her other relatives–but I am nonetheless determined to bring my pressure into normal range as quickly as I can.
The following books can provide useful information for all of us interested in addressing and preventing potential risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Heart 411: The Only Guide to Heart Health You’ll Ever Need by Marc Gillinov and Steven Nissen