A Step-by- Step Guide to Take Charge of Your Own Heart Health

Woman's Day, on newsstands today, unveils that the most important information for women to know is that simple changes can make a huge difference in the long run.  Experts, and recent studies conducted by the American Heart Association and Diet Coke, offer staggering statistics on heart disease today and simple advice about what to look out for and what to change.

According to a recent study "more than half of all sudden cardiac deaths could have been prevented by staying at a healthy weight, eating well, exercising, and not smoking." Making small changes now, whether in your 20's, 30's, or middle age, can drastically reduce the risks.

Woman's Day outlines the major risk factors that each woman can control on their own:
·       NOT SMOKING - Smokers are 2-4 times more likely of getting heart disease
·       BLOOD PRESSURE/ CHOLESTEROL - Blood pressure should be            less than 130/80 while total cholesterol should be under 200
·       WEIGHT- A BMI of 30 or higher drastically increases the chances for heart disease
·       NOT EXERCISING - This can double your risk; experts suggest at least 30 minutes most days of the week
·       TYPE 2 DIABETES - Making sure this disease is under control is a necessity
·       STRESS - Although the jury is still out on stress, it appears to heighten the risks

In a survey taken by the American Heart Association, women said that the biggest obstacle standing in their way of stepping up to the challenge of making these changes were family obligations and caring for others and most underestimated their personal risk.

28% also added that they were too stressed to do what they needed to do.  Dr. Christie Ballantyne adds, "Ironically, some of the things that help your heart, like exercise, also reduce stress."

Experts suggest knowing your family history as well as your most updated medical information such as your BMI, blood pressure, LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol so you can make the changes needed.

Additionally,  add in very basic cooking substitutes including boiling or baking instead of frying, use leaner proteins like lean beef or chicken, make your own bread crumbs, practice portion control, and stock up on staples so you are prepared and avoid unhealthy choices.
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