February 4, 2014
Helpful Hints To Help Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans every year. Part of this is because heart disease manifest in many ways including heart attack, stroke, blood clots, diabetes, and many others. The other part, though, is because we are not doing enough to take care of ourselves, to prevent heart disease, or to at least reduce the risk of heart disease. Recently, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reminded seniors about some methods to reduce heart disease. Since February is American Heart Month, we should definitely remind ourselves of the important steps that help reduce our risk of heart disease.
The reason to focus on seniors is because “normal aging leads to changes in the heart and blood vessels that increase the risk for several types of heart problems…certain risks for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, increase with age.” Understanding what lifestyle choices we can make to avoid heart disease is important.
The first step to reduce the risk of heart disease is simply to exercise more. Both the American Heart Association (AMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week will provide benefits beyond just how we look. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says, “Moderate exercise is appropriate for most older adults and includes activities like brisk walking, swimming laps or riding a stationary bike at an easy-to-moderate pace. Any exercise is better than no exercise, and activities like gardening, yard work and even shopping can be beneficial.” This means that moderate exercise is relatively easy to incorporate into our daily lives.
Diet, how we eat not as in to lose weight, plays a serious role in our heart’s health. If we eat a diet high in just proteins, starches, and fats, then heart disease of some sort is in our future. However, if we eat a diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, low-fat dairy, fish, and unsaturated oils, we just might find an even lower risk of heart disease than otherwise. The key is to incorporate lower fat foods like fruits and veggies because they are high in nutrients and fiber with proteins and fats that are better for us such as fish and nuts.
Not only will a diet high in fruits and veggies and high-protein, low-fat foods help lower our risks of heart disease, but it will also help to moderate our weight thus addressing another risk factor to heart disease: obesity. If we stay at a healthy weight, our heart will stay healthy as well. If we become obese, we risk major heart disease issues.
The next way to lower our risk of heart disease is to not smoke or use tobacco products at all. As the article states, “Stopping smoking leads to an almost immediate drop in the likelihood of having a heart attack. Because this benefit is seen in people of all ages, it is never too late to quit smoking. Avoiding second-hand smoke also is desirable.”
Beyond all of these methods, treating certain conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, helps to lower heart disease risk almost immediately.
For each of these tips, talking with a doctor is a good idea. Doing the research on your own is equally important so that you are a part of the conversation not just doing as you are told. Make health decisions with your doctor. Take control of your heart disease risks and become a better, healthier human—no matter what age you are.
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