Once considered a “man’s disease,” we now know that cardiovascular disease affects people of all ages and races, and, in fact, is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 630,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year — one in every four deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And each year, cardiovascular disease is responsible for 35 percent of deaths among American women over the age of 20, according the American College of Cardiology.
The good news? It’s easy to make a difference in your heart health, according to cardiologist Dr. Elsa-Grace Giardina, director of the Center for Women’s Health in the Division of Cardiology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. And maintaining a healthy heart doesn’t need to feel daunting.
“Good health can be really straightforward and simple,” says Dr. Giardina, who is professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Diet and physical activity are important parts of maintaining a healthy heart, but they are easier to master than most people think, she adds. “There are many myths associated with diet and confusion around the relationship between food and activity and your heart.”
Here, Dr. Giardina shares eight things she wishes people knew about their heart health — and the simple steps they can take to stay heart-healthy.