Losing to cardiovascular disease? Here's how to win

Story highlights

  • American Heart Association offers seven steps to improving heart health
  • Tips include eating heart healthy diet and shedding extra fat

(CNN)Even though we have the information on how to achieve a healthier lifestyle at our fingertips, the number of people with ideal cardiovascular health scores has decreased over the last 20 years.

With the goal of improving heart health, the American Heart Association created something called "Life's Simple 7" to help motivate people to live healthier.
Topics include smoking, body mass index, physical activity, diet, total cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose. These measures were designed to help us not only lower our risk of getting chronic diseases, but to live longer and have more productive lives. Researchers believe that it is important to maintain an ideal health score over a lifetime.
    Researchers from Boston University analyzed the prevalence of the ideal cardiovascular health score from 3,460 adults and figures go as far back as 1990. Scores decreased by 8.5% between 1991 and 1995 by 5.8% between 2005 and 2008. The drop was due to decreases in the number of people with ideal blood pressure, glucose levels, cholesterol levels and body mass indexes.
    Simply put, eat a heart healthy diet, shed the extra fat, keep blood pressure within a healthy range, get active, control cholesterol, reduce sugar intake and, if you smoke ... quit.