Something is killing women in this country at an alarming rate! It is not bird flu, E. coli, swine flu or many of the other flashes you see everyday on news stands. The number one killer of vital women in this country is heart disease.
Our hearts are amazing muscles. They start beating six weeks after conception, while we are still in our mother’s womb, and continue steadily until the day we die.Along the way, they can be assaulted by disease without us ever knowing it.
Important Steps to Prevent Heart Disease
Heart disease creeps up on us slowly, undetected, unnoticed, until many of us find ourselves in crisis. Although better prevention and management of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, have made great strides in preventing the ravaging effects of heart disease, the continued epidemic of obesity, low mobility and diabetes leave us parked behind the eight ball.
The fact is that many of us can control the lifestyle factors that prevent heart disease. Only 30 percent of how we age is controlled by genetics. This leaves a full 70 percent of how we age, including our hearts, in our direct control.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recently published its recommendations for preventing heart disease in women in the journal “Circulation.”
The following 7 recommendations are TRUE lifesavers:
First hand, second hand – all of it! Your heart and lungs are not the toxic waste-dump for the tobacco industry.
30 to 60 minutes of intense heart-rate-raising-total-body exercise. You strengthen your heart and get a strong brain and mind as a bonus.
What you eat matters
You have a waistline not a “wasteline”! Eat a diet high in fruits, veggies and whole grains. Eat fish twice a week. Limit saturated fats (no fried foods), excess alcohol and excess sugar.
Manage your body composition – manage your weight
It matters how much fat you have hanging around your body as fat is a toxic metabolic organ producing chemical and hormones that damage your body in excess.
Lower your blood pressure
Your heart is a muscle. The harder it has to work to push blood through your vessels the worse it is for its longevity. Decrease the work of your heart by lowering the blood pressure your heart has to pump against. Exercise or medical treatment does the trick.
Keep your cholesterol and LDL in check
High cholesterol not only gums up the vessels your heart must push blood through (like a clogged drain), but cholesterol actually infiltrates your vessel walls, causing damage and increasing the risk of heart attack. Exercise or medical treatment does the trick.
Be sweet on the outside, not the inside
High blood sugar also damages your blood vessels and soft tissues while complicating diabetes. Best to keep your blood sugar in check with exercise or medical treatment.
DON’T KNOW what your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar levels are? The first step in prevention is “knowing yourself.” Go to the doctor and get measured!
Finally, the AHA wants you to know three FALSE factors in the fight against heart disease:
Estrogen replacement does NOT prevent heart disease or stroke.
Antioxidants (folic acid, vitamin C) do NOT prevent heart disease or stroke.
B-vitamins (folic acid, B6, B12) do NOT prevent heart disease or stroke.
You are in control! Now take hold and make the lifestyle changes that can save your heart and your life!
Vonda Wright, MD is an Orthopaedic Surgeon who specializes in fitness and sports medicine. She is the creator and director of the Performance and Research Initiative for Masters Athletes (PRIMA) and the author of two books on fitness and healthy aging.
Read more about taking control of your health in “Dr. Vonda Wright’s Guide to THRIVE: 4 steps to Body, Brains and Bliss” – available at www.amazon.com. Follow Dr. Wright on Twitter @DrVondaWright and on her blog at www.vondawright.com
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