Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. There are many forms this disease can take, and each should be treated. Here are a few things how to avoid heart diseases:
(8) Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit. (Do I really need to tell you this?) Smokers have more than twice the risk of developing coronary heart disease than non-smokers, according to information from the American Heart Association.
(7) A bright young Spanish woman once explained to me that her grandmother said you should eat whatever you want, but in the appropriate portion. We need everything, she said, but not too much of it. It turns out she is right. The problem with the modern American diet is that we eat a lot of fat, salt, sugars and simple carbohydrates (sodas, etc.) But, mostly we just eat a lot. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, we eat about 4,000 calories a day. Nutrition labels are usually based on a 2,000 calorie diet, which is approximately the amount required by an average person in one day.
(6) Since the mid-70s, obesity rates have jumped from 15 to 32 percent, according to the Center for Disease Control. That’s an increase of more than half. Nearly two-thirds of the United States population is overweight. Our weight problems, it seems, have become an epidemic. If you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30, you are obese and your weight is putting your health in jeopardy. The more of you there is, the harder that little guy has to work. Give him a break and get down to a healthy weight and stay there.
(5) Keep your blood pressure in a low range. High blood pressure is the increase of the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls in your arteries. Normally, it has no symptoms, which is why it can be so dangerous. We don’t know the cause of high blood pressure, and it usually can’t be cured- only controlled. So be sure to get your blood pressure checked regularly and follow your doctor’s instructions.
(4) Watch your cholesterol. Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Frequent lipoprotein tests, tests to determine your blood cholesterol numbers, should be included in your health routine. A total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL is considered “desirable.”
(3) Eat healthy. This should be a no-brainer, but it is often one of the hardest things for Americans to accomplish. You should consume fewer or the same amount of calories as the amount you use in a day. Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all of the food groups, and less foods full of saturated fat or “empty calories” (such as sugary desserts).
(2) Manage your stress. Excessive drinking, smoking and overeating are just a few of the destructive ways some of us respond to emotional or stressful situations. Finding positive ways to deal with stress will help protect your overall health, as well as your heart.
(1) Get active. This alone will help you accomplish many of these eight steps to a healthier heart. Thirty minutes to an hour of physical activity every day will strengthen your heart, lungs, bones and muscles, increase your energy, help control your weight and blood pressure and help you sleep and manage stress, all the while boosting your self-confidence. And don’t worry, you don’t have to become an athlete to gain these benefits. You can start slowly, working harder as your heart gets stronger.
Published Winter 2009
Written by Charlotte Tallman
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or contact The American Heart Association in El Paso