Focus on healthy living to prevent heart disease
Recently I had the opportunity to attend the annual HerHeart Symposium sponsored by the Capital Regional Medical Center where Dr. Shamil Castro provided some valuable education to participants with a focus on women and heart disease. This blog will focus on reiterating the importance of preventing cardiovascular disease with a focus on healthy lifestyle factors for both men and women.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Fortunately, it is largely preventable and there are many things people can do to reduce their risk.
Although certain types of heart disease, such as heart defects, can’t be prevented, you can help prevent many other types of heart disease by making the same lifestyle changes that may also improve your heart disease, such as:
• Eating a healthy diet. (low in salt and saturated fats)
• Maintaining a healthy weight.
• Getting enough physical activity.
• Not smoking or using other forms of tobacco.
• Limiting alcohol use.
By living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar normal and lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack. A healthy lifestyle includes the following:
Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods.
Eating foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt (sodium) in your diet also can lower your blood pressure. Limiting sugar in your diet can lower your blood sugar level to prevent or help control diabetes.
Consulting a nutrition professional (Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist, RDN), if needed, can assist in your effort to consume a healthy diet
Being overweight or obese increases your risk for heart disease. To determine if your weight is in a healthy range, doctors often calculate your body mass index. If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight website at:
Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to calculate excess body fat. They may use special equipment to calculate excess body fat and hydration status.
Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels. For adults, the Surgeon General recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling, every week. Children and adolescents should get 1 hour of physical activity every day.
For more information, see CDC’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity website at:
Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor and other health care professionals can suggest ways to help you quit.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can raise your blood pressure. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day, and women only 1. For more information, visit CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health website
Stress, health conditions and hygiene
In addition, reducing and managing stress, controlling other health conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, and practicing good hygiene will go a long way toward helping in preventing heart disease.
View the short video produced on women and heart disease produced by the Mayo Clinic at:
Mark A. Mahoney, Ph.D., has been a registered dietitian/nutritionist for over 30 years and completed graduate studies in Nutrition & Public Health at Columbia University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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