Other than a congenital predisposition, there are many more coronary risk factors that everyone needs to be aware of. These are the most prominent of the risk factors. Smoking is a very serious risk factor, and should be number one on the list. Excess weight places an extra burden on the heart, and those morbidly obese increase their risk factors many times over those who are only 10 to 20 lbs. over their normal weight. The problem of obesity generally starts with the young children in school, where 1 in 3 students will be found to be overwieght. Not enough emphasis is placed on physical activity, and the lunches in school cafeterias.
Diet is extremely important and can impact heart health tremendously. The average Americans are simply not following the guidelines of eating enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts in their daily diet. They are not reading food labels to see what that a particular food consists of. Because of this their diets will consist of too many trans fats, that need to be completely avoided, and sodium and sugars that need to be used in lower amounts only in order to remain heart healthy. They will also have to avoid fried foods and foods that contribute to causing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides. High blood pressure (hypertension) forces the heart to work harder to supply enough blood to the body tissues and organs. High blood cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), places an added burden on the heart to pump the blood through narrowed arteries.Another risk factor, high blood triglyceride levels. Here too, the raised triglycerides causes problems for those with high cholesterol and actually work in unison most of the time.
Diabetes, known as a silent killer because a great number of people are unaware that they have the disease, has became rampant throughout the entire nation. When they become aware of symptoms, damage to the circulatory system, organs and eyes may already be present. That is why everyone should have a simple blood test to know their blood glucose levels. The individuals age, race and gender, play an enormous part in maintaining a healthy heart. Much like an aging automobile, the older it gets, the more maintenance it will need. Sedentary lifestyle and how active you are, often determines your heart health. Physical activity needs to start at an early age. Unfortunately most schools are lax in having their students join in physical activities. Television and the computer have put our younger generation at risk, making couch potatoes of them at an early age. This is a learning problem and has become a habit carried through into our adult years. Stress, both emotionally and physical will play an important part in having a healthy heart. We are is stressful times, due to unemployment, and having to work work two jobs, just to get by.
The environmental factor is another serious health risk. The pollution of our environment has become widespread. Homes have been built on polluted landfills, making them at risk from the chemicals and gases, such as radon. So you can see how the environment would play such an extremely important role in your heart health with the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, and where you live. Exercise or the lack thereof can place you at serious risk for heart disease, as mentioned above. After identifying your risk factors, addressing these factors are the next step in improving your chances of achieving a healthier heart. The best way is creating a plan on paper so that you can follow a program on a daily basis. This program will consist of what to do and what not to do. Dedicating yourself to the program will help you to achieve a healthy heart and lifestyle. For those individuals with a family history of cardiovascular disease, instituting a healthy heart program is a must. This alone should be enough motivation to give this serious thought. Start by taking each of the risks mentioned above and write down how you can improve your lifestyle by addressing those risks.
Below is a program you should follow:
Smoking. I’m sure everyone knows what the risks attributed to smoking are. So, if you smoke, you must STOP! More people die of lung cancer than due to any other causes, except possibly living a sedentary lifestyle.
Excess weight. If you are 10-20 pounds overweight, you must lose the excess weight. Men with waist size above 40 inches, and women with waist size above 36 inches are at a greater risk for coronary heart disease. Losing this excess weight can be achieved by watching your calorie intake. You should have a healthy percentage of body fat. For men it is 10 to 22 percent, and for women 16 to 28 percent. Knowing your “Body Mass Index” can also be an important factor in determining your risk factor for cardiovascular disease and hypertension. This is calculated on your height and weight. Normally a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Another simple test to determine your body fat is to subtract your waist measurement from your height measurement (in inches). If the difference is 36 or greater, your body fat is within normal range. Watching your calorie intake is a must. But first you must know what your calorie intake is. Determine this by multiplying your weight by 6.7, then add 487 and multiply that by 1.6, the result will be the calories needed to maintain your present weight. To lose weight, reduce your calorie intake by at least 500 calories. The weight loss will be slow and steady. You must also add exercise to your daily routine. If you are morbidly obese, a greater effort is needed to lose the weight. Here, it may be wise to consult a nutritionist and possibly a psychologist who is versed in weight loss problems for morbidly obese individuals.
Diet is everyone’s problem when it comes to cardiovascular health. Eating a healthy diet is making sure you are getting at least 5 portions of vegetables and 3 portions of fruits daily. Whole wheat grains, as well as nuts and legumes should be included as well. Not everyone gets their normal daily requirement of vitamins and minerals, so it is prudent that they take a good vitamin and mineral supplement daily. When one is serious about their diet, they must read the food labels of every food eaten. Trans Fats must be avoided as well as saturated fats. Fried foods are to be avoided. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension). A reading of 120 over 80 is the desired goal. Hypertension can affect children as well as adults, but there are more adults that are affected. Hypertension can cause heart attacks, or strokes. There are individuals who are completely unaware of what their blood pressure readings are. Age being no criterion for those affected with high blood pressure, so it is impossible to believe there are people who are still unaware of what their blood pressure stats are, when there are simple ways of checking. There are inexpensive home monitors, and many of the chain Pharmacies have free blood pressure machines, and it takes only a few minutes. High blood cholesterol blood levels (Hypercholesterolemia). The body manufactures cholesterol from saturated fats. A reading of 200 mg/dl and below is the desired goal. A reading of 200 to 239 is considered borderline, and readings of 240 and above are considered high. There are 2 types of cholesterol, LDL; the bad cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dl. The HDL is considered the good cholesterol, but a reading of less than 40 mg/dl is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. Above 60 mg/dl is considered good and the goal to reach. Here too, there are individuals who are completely unaware of what their blood cholesterol levels are. High blood cholesterol can affect anyone, no matter what his or her ages are. Children should be tested at age 10 as well. High blood triglyceride levels. A reading of 150 mg/dl is the normal level. A reading of 150-199 mg/dl is considered borderline-high. Above 199 mg/dl is considered very high and in the danger level. The increase for heart disease in women is more than 190 mg/dl, and in men it is above 400 mg/dl. Triglycerides are fats that are derived from sugars and carbohydrates and are manufactured in the liver. Triglycerides and cholesterol are the causative agents in causing atheroslerotic plaques that narrow the arteries and are the causative factors in cardiovascular disease and strokes.
Diabetes, as mentioned above is a silent killer. Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent and very often goes undetected because at its onset and for many years, it may not present any apparent symptoms. By the time symptoms start to appear, damage will have occurred to the circulatory system, eyes, and other body organs. Everyone should be aware of their blood sugar level, and it only requires a simple blood test to know this. There are individuals who may have symptoms related to diabetes, such as neuropathies, who do not investigate their symptoms by going to a healthcare professional for an evaluation. Age, race and gender are important risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Native Americans, African Americans, and Jews with eastern Mediterranean origins are at a greater risk to have any of the above risk factors for heart disease. This does not preclude any other individual from these risks.
A sedentary lifestyle kills more Americans than any of those that are placed at risk by smoking. It is important that we remain active, especially as we grow older. Being a couch potato will place you at serious risk for heart disease. The mantra “keep moving”, should be embedded into the brain. The importance of exercise is one the most important factors, and is something that everyone needs to start. However, before you start an exercise program, you should see your healthcare provider for a complete physical evaluation. He or she will be be able to tell what you can do or cannot do in choosing an exercise. For example, they may find an enlarged heart, a heart valve problem, a murmur, or some other physical disability. This does not preclude you from exercising, but you you will at least know what type of exercise program you should have and to what extremes you can extend yourself.
Stress kills. Reducing the amount of stress you are experiencing can add years to your life. Everyone needs to take a time out period during the day, giving them a chance to decompress and relax. Getting a restful night’s sleep for at least 7-8 hours is a requirement, and a must to help reduce stress. Without enough restful sleep, you most certainly will have a stressful day ahead. Environmental factors are serious causes for heart disease. These factors can entail anything form the air we breathe, where we work, and where the food we eat is grown, packaged or prepared. A case in point as an example. in the past, at least 166 people have become violently ill, and even 3 have died by becoming infected with “E Coli” from eating fresh packaged spinach. At least 25 states were involved. In this instance the people eating the tainted spinach had no prior knowledge or control. Be aware of news stories, and recalls that may be announced. We do have control of checking our homes for living in a clean environment. Exercise, as mentioned above, is one the single most important things to combine with diet to keep you vigorous and vital throughout your senior years. It can reduce your LDL cholesterol levels and increase your HDL cholesterol levels, decreasing your heart and blood vessel risk factors. It is important to find an exercise program that you enjoy and will stay with. Also walking for at least one hour daily is extremely beneficial. If it can’t be on a daily basis, at least try for 3 times a week.