In the U.S., nearly one in two adults has high blood pressure, and 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes occur each year. Those are staggering figures that demonstrate a fundamental problem: a lack of attention to heart health.
Can new technology, combined with a few simple lifestyle changes, help society eliminate cardiac episodes completely? It's an ambitious goal, but research shows cardiovascular disease doesn't have to be inevitable.
How to Improve Heart Health: The Basics
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. According to the CDC, about one in every four deaths can be attributed to it, which add ups to approximately 655,000 Americans each year. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the nation's most common type of heart disease, with almost 7% of the population over the age of 20 suffering from the ailment.
The physical and emotional toll that heart disease takes on Americans is significant enough, but there are economic impacts as well. Heart disease costs the U.S. in excess of $200 billion per year. Heart disease is ravishing the American people, even though in many cases, it's preventable.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.
Simple habits like healthy eating and stress management significantly reduce the risk of a cardiac incident. Why stress management? Stress secretes cortisol, which produces higher blood pressure and a faster heart rate.
Adding more leafy green vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to your diet provides your heart with the nutrients it needs. Avoiding an overindulgence in high cholesterol foods is just as important — especially when it comes to fried food, fast food, and processed meats.
Along with these, three different types of exercise are recommended by heart health experts: aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility or balance work. Elevating your heart rate for short bursts helps lower your blood pressure and resting heart rate.
Last, but not least, monitoring your blood pressure regularly is key to heart attack and stroke prevention. More than 100 million adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure, and many are unaware of the serious risk factors. When left undetected and uncontrolled, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can lead to an array of heart-related health risks.
The Importance of Monitoring Blood Pressure
In a world where we've become obsessed with learning everything about our health, blood pressure monitoring has not kept up with the curve. Most people don't even know that a normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80, according to the American Heart Association.
Companies like OMRON are stepping in to create easy-to-use technologies that track and detect blood pressure changes, so you can see a heart attack or stroke coming before it's too late.
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"Most people brush their teeth in the morning... other people step on a bathroom scale and follow their weight," Randy Kellogg, president and CEO of OMRON Healthcare Inc., explains. "But to put a blood pressure cuff on your arm and monitor your blood pressure is a whole new habit. We have to help so that it's a simple addition to their lifestyle."
One of OMRON's goals is "Going for Zero," an unprecedented mission that envisions a world with zero heart attacks or strokes. The company plans to get there with a holistic approach that combines educational resources and tech, like their latest wearable blood pressure monitor that resembles a wristwatch.
For an additional layer of heart health data, the OMRON Complete device provides EKG monitoring on top of blood pressure readings. The wireless, compact device works in tandem with OMRON's proprietary app, which allows users to share readings with their physician.
All of OMRON's connected devices allow for easy monitoring with app support that provides understanding on exactly how your behaviors affect blood pressure.
When left undetected and uncontrolled, hypertension can lead to an array of heart-related health risks.
"Your health changes minute by minute. Blood pressure changes second by second," Kellogg says. "If you were to take readings once a week for a year, you should find that reading to be relatively steady. But if suddenly it moves, now you have a data point. You can then sit down with your physician."
OMRON has been a mainstay in at-home blood pressure monitoring for nearly half a century. As technology has evolved, they've kept up with innovative, new devices that make it easier for people to manage their heart health and learn strategies for preventing cardiac events.
With solutions like these, heart health isn't as intimidating as it sounds.
The human heart beats 2.5 billion times over a lifetime, on average. Millions of gallons of blood are pumped through every portion of the body by this vital organ that most of us pay no attention to. Yet with solutions like these, heart health isn't as intimidating as it sounds.
By understanding the risks through education, routine blood pressure monitoring, and a commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle, it's possible that we could someday live in a world free of heart attacks and strokes.