10 ways to make 2015 a heart-healthier year
SUSAN LOCKE writes that staying heart-healthy should be a priority for everyone . . .
You may have set resolutions in January, but have you kept them? How about resolving to modify your lifestyle to lower your risk factors for heart disease? Modifiable risk factors include smoking, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
1. Quit smoking. Half of the risk of developing coronary heart disease disappears within one year of quitting. After 10 years, the ex-smoker has a risk identical to that of a non-smoker.
2. Lower your LDL cholesterol. If you have coronary heart disease, LDL should be 70 mg/dL or less. If you have major risk factors, LDL should be 100 mg/dL or less. Read labels on food and choose poly- or monosaturated fats and high fiber. Avoid saturated and trans fats. Exercise regularly. If needed, treat your cholesterol with medication.
3. Raise your HDL cholesterol. Exercise, weight loss and smoking cessation will help you get to a good level (men: over 40 mg/dL, women: 45 mg/dL).
4. Keep blood pressure down. Ideal range is less than 130/80. If diet and exercise do not achieve an ideal blood pressure, treat with anti-hypertensive medication.
5. Lose weight. Decrease your cardiovascular risk by losing pounds if you are overweight or obese.
6. Choose the right foods. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, poultry and fish, low-fat or non-fat dairy, olive oil. Avoid trans fats, high sodium, sugary beverages and processed meats.
7. Consider red wine in moderation. Men can have fewer than two drinks per day, women less than one drink per day.
8. Exercise! Your program should include aerobic exercise at least 30 minutes per day, five times per week, and resistance training two days per week.
9. If you’re diabetic, it’s important not only to maintain a stable glucose level, but also to keep LDL cholesterol and blood pressure in good control, lose weight and quit smoking.
10. Reduce your stress. Strategies for stress reduction include exercise, biofeedback, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Depression should be treated with antidepressants if necessary.
As you consider making a lifestyle change, you will have greater success if you …
• Create manageable goals: When making healthy lifestyle changes, set only those goals you know you can keep.
• Keep it simple: If you aren’t used to running for an hour every day, start with smaller time limits and gradually work up to your goal.
• Maintain perspective: Changing a lifestyle habit requires hard work. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall back into an old routine, try to maintain perspective and get back on track.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. The American Heart Association states that for some, a fatal heart attack is the first and only symptom of heart disease.
The good news is that you have control to modify your risks. Once you identify your risks, you can manage them. To discover how we can advocate for you, please see below to contact us today.
SUSAN LOCKE, MD, is Healthnetwork Foundation’s medical director.
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