If preventing heart attack, heart disease and stroke were as easy as A-B-C, would you make the lifestyle changes which could save your life?
A: Avoid Tobacco, Stress and More
Cigarette smokers develop heart disease four times more often than non-smokers. If you live with someone who smokes, your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke is slightly greater.
Alcohol use and abuse leads to diabetes and liver disease, which greatly increase the risk of heart disease. Less than one drink per day is the prescription for a healthier heart.
Stress affects many body systems, especially the production of adrenaline. Adrenaline raises blood pressure and increases heart rate unnecessarily. Both make the heart work harder than it must.
High blood pressure makes your heart work harder to pump the blood throughout your body. Over time, high blood pressure (hypertension) weakens your heart, increasing the risk of heart attack and congestive heart failure.
High cholesterol increases risk of heart disease. Cholesterol builds up in the blood vessels as plaque. As the blood vessels become narrower, blood pressure increases. Narrowed arteries can block blood from getting to the heart itself, causing a specific type of heart attack called miocardial infarction (MI).
Obesity increases risk for heart disease and congestive heart failure. Since obesity increases risks and incidences of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, it is a triple threat.
B: Be More Active
Physical activity strengthens the heart muscle, promotes better circulation, reduces stress and decreases obesity. If you are not doing at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, work your way up to it. Doing too much before your body is ready can be harmful.
C: Choose Good Nutrition
Diet is the most controllable risk factor for heart disease. Overweight people are more likely to develop heart disease, even when they have no other risk factors. Choosing a diet low in sugar and fat added to regular exercise is the recipe for a healthier heart.
Vitamins and minerals are important to keep in balance to fight cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. A multivitamin is an easy out, but will not replace eating healthy fruits and vegetables to get the vitamins naturally.
ABC Heart Healthy Action Plan
Remember to get the advice of your physician. A doctor needs to interpret the heart health numbers from blood tests and lab results. Follow the ABC of the heart health plan.
A. Quit smoking to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Depending on how long and how much you smoked, you can possibly reverse some of the damage you have done to your body.
B. Avoid alcohol or drink only in moderation. This means less than three drinks per week.
C. Reduce stress by making lifestyle changes, career changes and engaging in stress-reducing activities such as exercise and meditation.
D. Have your blood pressure professionally checked regularly.
E. Eliminate, reduce or control high blood pressure with the help of a physician and medication for hypertension. Monitor your blood pressure closely.
F. Have your cholesterol checked. Reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels into the healthy range with diet, exercise and, when ordered by a physician, medication.
G. Have your body mass index (BMI) calculated to determine what your ideal weight should be. Lose any excess weight by following a healthy diet prescribed by a physician or dietitian.
H. Exercise each day in increasing amounts until you reach 30 minutes of moderate exercise.
I. Choose healthy foods. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables to get enough vitamins and minerals. Choose low sugar and low fat foods.
Not Just You
Good heart health is a family affair. Take care of the ones you love by implementing the ABC Heart Healthy Action Plan with Mate, children and friends. Having someone help you stick to you plan makes it easier to maintain.
Disclaimer: Information provided in this blog post is not offered to replace, contradict or augment professional medical advice. Information is offered as a service to readers to encourage open dialogue between patient and health care provider. See full text of disclaimer in The Office located on the top menu bar.
What are some ways you are trying to maintain better health? Is better health one of your resolutions? Have you figured out where this is leading? (Yes, the heart posts have to do with last night’s poem.)
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2008-2012
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