“Cardiovascular diseases kill some 950,000 Americans every year, but as many as two-thirds of these deaths are preventable. Over the past 50 years, research into the causes of ischemic heart disease (which causes over half the deaths from cardiovascular disease) has shown that many people’s risk of a heart attack can be reduced by making lifestyle changes and taking medication. In addition, treating high blood pressure reduces the risk of stroke and congestive heart failure.” 1
Heart disease is America’s number 1 killer.
Do you know what your risk profile is?
There are numerous risk factors we should all be aware of:
high blood pressure
high blood cholesterol level
You obviously can not exchange the parents you inherited for maybe a set without a history of heart disease, however, you can change many things within your control. Heart disease is largely preventable.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure increases the hearts workload, weakening it over time. It also increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and congestive heart failure. Aim for a blood pressure of under 140 systolic (top) and 90 diastolic (bottom), with 120/80 being optimal. Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years, you can easily have it checked at most any pharmacy.
High cholesterol and high triglycerides
Having total cholesterol over 200 indicates a higher susceptibility to heart disease. The target should be to have an LDL (“bad” cholesterol) lower than 130, HDL (“good” cholesterol) over 45, and triglycerides at 150 or even lower. Triglycerides are emerging as a significant risk factor.
Do You Smoke?
One word: STOP!
Cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the country. If you smoke your risk of developing heart disease increases dramatically.
Diabetes is a serious risk factor. Regardless of age, diabetics have a much higher risk of heart disease than non-diabetics. If you have diabetes, work at maintaining a healthy weight, keep physically active, minimize dietary fat and calories, and consult your doctor.
Do you lead a sedentary lifestyle?
Inadequate physical activity does not provide for adequate blood fl ow through your arteries which can lead to blockages. These blockages can lead to some form of coronary event. The heart is a muscle and muscles need to work to stay strong. If you want to maintain a strong and healthy heart you need to exercise regularly.
Get some physical activity. Put down the remote and the potato chips and go for a walk. This is a great stress reliever and it will burn off those calories from dinner. Do not snack while you are walking.
Obesity and overweight
The incidence of obesity is in a crisis mode. Being more than 30 percent over your ideal body weight makes you more likely to develop heart disease, even with no other risk factors. New guidelines recommend your waist circumference should be less than 35 inches.
Carrying around excess weight puts an extra burden on your heart and can take years off your life. An improper diet and inadequate exercise often lead to coronary artery disease. Fatty foods can increase cholesterol levels. Carbohydrates convert to triglycerides which when elevated to unsafe levels can indicate type II diabetes and heart disease.
Do you lead a stressful life?
Stress can lead to many physical ailments including heart disease and stroke. Stress puts an unhealthy heavy burden on your heart.
Stress can be deadly so try to minimize it in your daily life. Detach from the outcome of events you are worried about and don’t force things to occurr the way you expect. Let it go and watch with amazement how what you want does happen without your interference.
Try meditation or just quieting your mind for a few minutes to relax tension and stress levels.
Give problems the “10 year test” Will this problem really matter 10 years from now? If the answer is no, it is not worth worrying about today either. Exercise strengthens your heart so it is more capable of handling stress. Aerobic activities like bicycling, playing tennis, running, swimming, and walking are excellent ways to strengthen your heart muscle.
Why exercise is so important?
Regular physical activity and maintaining the proper weight are essential to reducing your risk of heart disease and improving quality of life. It is not news that exercise improves your heart health. Consistent exercise may in fact lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, raise HDL (good) cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.
The aging process can be slowed from physical activity and exercise. The capacity of muscles and other tissues to utilize oxygen decreases naturally with age. Exercise and other physical activity can reduce the rate of this decrease. The calorie burn rate at rest also decreases as you age. Regular exercise can offset this by helping your body burn more calories. Calories continue to burn even hours after exercise. Bones and muscles work better when they’re used than when they are not.
Natural Supplements can be very beneficial as a preventive measure against heart disease
Omega 3 fish oils are a healthy way of helping prevent heart disease
“Evidence shows that even after age 50 and even if heart disease has already developed, healthy lifestyle changes – stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising sensibly, and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels with medication – may improve the odds for a longer, more active life.”