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Heart Disease in the Military

July is a month to celebrate our freedom in the United States. Being free gives us the ability to achieve great things, but none of this would be possible without the amazing men and women in our armed services. However, there is a silent killer amongst these men and women that a recent study by the American Heart Association (AHA) has found. This killer is cardiovascular disease.

A startling new study by the AHA found that cardiovascular health is worse in active-duty personal than in civilians of similar age. Statistically, only 30% of soldiers had ideal blood pressure, which is a major risk factor of heart disease, compared to 55% of civilians.

These finding are shocking due to the rigorous qualifications military personnel must meet in order to become a soldier, many of which promote a heart health lifestyle, such as increased physical activity, and numerous health exams. Despite this, cardiovascular diseases still affects the Army more than any other chronic disease.

Although researchers have no specific evidence as to why a greater amount of active-duty personnel have high blood pressure, we can always look at some of the risk factors, including high amounts of stress, excessive alcohol use, smoking tobacco, and a high sodium diet which may contribute to the study’s findings.

If you or a loved one is active-duty, there are ways to reduce their, or your, chance of developing heart disease. Try the tips below.

  • Reduce salt intake

Salty foods increase your blood pressure which can increases your risk of heart disease. The Heart Foundation recommends adults to eat less than 2000 mg of sodium a day, which is less than a teaspoon.

  • Deal with stress in a healthy way

It is important to avoid excessive drinking or smoking to deal with stress. Try encouraging your loved one to reach out to others for help, use daily exercise and practice healthy eating patterns. Yoga is also a good tool that may lower blood pressure, reduce stress and blood glucose levels.

  • Reduce Alcohol intake and stop smoking

The American Heart Association recommends no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women. A drink is one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz of 80 proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits. Smoking is the most preventable cause of heart disease.

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