Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men and women. In the fight against heart disease our approach must be to emphasize prevention with a focus on achieving and sustaining desirable behaviors.
1) Don’t smoke. If you smoke, find a way to quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Smoking is toxic to the body. Every organ system is affected, but certainly it is a BIG risk factor for heart disease.
2) Eat a healthful, balanced, varied diet to help prevent heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Eat a variety of fruits and copious amounts of vegetables; eat whole grains and complex carbohydrates like oatmeal. Choose lean proteins. Include healthful fats found in salmon, avocados and nuts, and limit saturated fats found in fatty meats and cheese. Avoid processed food, fried food, fad diets and extremes. Limit salt and simple sugars; sugar is our enemy. Drink more water and less soda.
3) Maintain an Ideal Body Weight. You can enjoy a healthful diet and still be overweight. Exercise portion control and enjoy smaller more frequent meals. A good measure of where you stand is the BMI; optimal is less than 25, overweight is 25-30, obese is greater than 30. Cardiovascular risk increases with elevated BMI. Visit www.bmi-calculator.net to calculate your BMI.
4) Reduce stress. Try exercise – guaranteed to relieve stress. Walk, dance, garden; take a friend and chat, take a dog and run. The possibilities are endless. Listen to music. Take a series of deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Turn off your phone and disconnect. Get more sleep.
5) Exercise. This is not optional. Exercise improves heart and lung function, decreases resting blood pressure, decreases body fat, decreases total and LDL “bad” cholesterol, raises HDL “good” cholesterol, increases energy levels, increases tolerance to stress and depression, and controls or prevents the development of diabetes. Include aerobics (walking, biking, elliptical), resistance (strength training), and stretching. With time, your body will respond by increasing muscle mass and tone and decreasing body fat. You will be thinner, stronger, more limber and flexible, and your body will function better and be less vulnerable to orthopedic injury. You will be healthier and decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease and chronic illness.
See your doctor regularly to ensure optimal control of several key factors:
6) Healthful lipids including cholesterol, triglycerides and lipoproteins,
7) Healthful blood pressure,
8) Healthful blood sugar,
9) Optimal vitamin D level; 25-hydroxyvitamin D should measure 40-50 ng/dl.
10) Take appropriate nutritional supplements: A good daily multivitamin with just 100% of essential vitamins and minerals is a great foundation. Research shows 80 to 90% of the population does not achieve the recommended daily value (RDV) for each vitamin and mineral each day, nor do they even come close. And, bear in mind that the RDV levels for each nutrient are only intended to guard against severe nutrient deficiency diseases, but are not intended to serve as levels of vitamin and mineral intake that are optimal in regard to maximizing our well-being and longevity. Supplement calcium according to your individual needs and vitamin D when needed. Take a high quality fish oil with 1000 mg combined DHA+EPA to boost your omega-3 intake. Beyond the protective effects demonstrated for heart disease and cancers, scientific evidence strongly indicates that the omega-3 fatty acids, DHA + EPA, may have potential benefits in the prevention and/or treatment of myriad health conditions.
Did You Know…?
The American Heart Association (AHA) 2020 Impact Goal is to improve the cardiovascular health of Americans by 20% while also reducing cardiovascular deaths by 20%. In order to achieve these goals, the AHA adopted a new concept of cardiovascular health, one that is made up of seven components. These components include four ideal health behaviors–not smoking, body-mass index (BMI) <25 kg/m2, physical activity at goal levels, and diet that includes three or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily–and three ideal health factors, including total cholesterol <200 mg/dL, systolic blood pressure <120 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure <80 mm Hg, and fasting plasma glucose levels <100 mg/dL.
Study: Cardiovascular Health Linked With Reduced Mortality
Individuals meeting five of seven cardiovascular health measures selected by the American Heart Association (AHA) had a significantly lower risk of all-cause mortality and deaths from diseases of the circulatory system compared with those who met none of the metrics.
Ford ES, Greenlund KJ, Hong Y. Ideal cardiovascular health and mortality from all causes and diseases of the circulatory system among adults in the United States. Circulation 2012.