Quality of Life
Dr. Clyde Yancy from Northwestern University, who is a past president of the American Heart Association, recently gave a keynote address at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Vancouver. He detailed 7 key steps that everyone should follow in order to have, now get this, a 90% chance of living to 90 or even 100 years old!
Get active: Physical inactivity can cost you four years, while doubling your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Know and control your cholesterol levels: Almost 40 per cent of Canadians have high cholesterol, also a risk for heart disease and stroke.
Follow a healthy diet: Half of Canadians don’t meet the healthy eating standard.
Know your blood pressure: Preventative monitoring of this so-called “silent killer” can reduce your risk of stroke by up to 40 per cent and heart attack by as much as 25 per cent.
Maintain a healthy weight: As much as another four years are lost to the 60 per cent of Canadians who are obese or overweight.
Manage diabetes: Diabetes, expected to afflict 2.4 million Canadians by 2016, is a cause of stroke, heart disease and other potentially fatal illnesses.
Be tobacco free: Self-explanatory. Quitting smoking, to say nothing of never starting, immediately reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
For my international readers, yes, he was addressing a Canadian crowd, so many of these stats apply to Canadians, but I am sure they relate to many countries as well. The main points of this article I want to focus in on is the likelihood that you will reach a certain age.
Life expectancy in many countries continues to climb. This can be due to many factors such as medical breakthroughs and advancements, pharmaceuticals, as well as our understanding of the human body. There are certain factors that can lead to premature death that for the most case are out of our control such as accident or illness, but for the most part, human beings have a high likelihood of living very long lives now compared to previous generations.
I am by no means disagreeing with Dr. Yancy here on his list, but there are few things that I find surprising. First of all, he lists the fact that exercise, or rather a lack-of exercise, can reduce your life by only 4 years. I feel as though many people may read this and think, "Oh, 4 years isn't so bad, I would rather sit on my butt and watch tv than to exercise. Besides its only 4 years!" Secondly, and on a similar note, he claims that being obese or overweight can shave yet another 4 years off your life. Once again, there may be individuals reading this thinking that 4 years is well worth it as long as they can continue to eat their snack cakes and Mickey-D's.
The reason why I bring these 2 points up, is the fact that, sure, Dr. Yancy details how you can live longer, but he fails to mention the quality of life that can be lived by following these 7 steps. Relating back to the fact that medical advancements are continually extending our life-spans, I believe many people feel as though there will always be that magic pill or surgery that will "keep them going".
I, myself, as well as many of you out there may have experienced, or will experience in your lifetime the declining quality of life some people experience as they age. I currently work for a pharmacy that services long-term care facilities. I have been in these "homes" and have seen the lives that these individuals have to lead. Sure, you may think, "That's what happens when you get old", or "I don't have to worry about that for a while!" Let me just say that I have seen individuals aged anywhere from their 50's to their 100's in these facilities.
The point I am trying to make is that aging is mandatory, but "getting old" is (for the most part) optional. By trying to lead as healthy of a lifestyle as possible, and following Dr. Yancy's 7 steps here, you can not only lengthen your life, but you can improve the quality of life that you lead as well. Sure, you may live to be 100 years old, but if spending the last 40 years of that life in a wheel chair or struggling with aches and pains, what type of life are you actually living. Now is the time, while you still can, to lay the foundation of a healthy lifestyle by consistently exercising, and consuming a healthy diet so that you will see 100 with a smile on your face!