Recently we were shocked to learn that actor James Gandolfini, well-known for his role in the HBO series, The Sopranos, had passed away at the young age of 51. His untimely death of a massive heart attack is a reminder of how we must prioritize our health every day, despite the many things that get in the way and keep us sedentary and stressed.
Gandolfini’s death is a wake-up call for all of us to recognize the risk factors of heart disease including:
- High blood pressure
- High LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)
- Low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor diet/nutrition
- Excessive drinking or drug use
You have heard this before: approximately 25 percent of deaths in the United States are caused from heart disease, making it the nation’s leading killer. Almost half of men and women in the U.S. from ages 40 to 59 have been diagnosed with heart disease. Despite the vastness of this statistic, we are still taken aback when someone as young as Mr. Gandolfini dies from heart disease.
The hopeful news in all of this is that you can choose to be proactive to help avoid being a statistic. Make a point to do something every day to keep your heart healthy; make better food choices, stop smoking, de-stress, or get moving. Improving your cardiovascular fitness through regular physical activity can lead to a marked improvement in your overall quality of life. This includes weight control, improved mood, energy boosts, and better sleep. No matter your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoproteins (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one/two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.
So, given what you know about the risks of heart disease, “whaddya gonna do?”