Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cut your Heart Attack Risk in Half

According to a special report on our local ABC News affiliate in Los Angeles on February 3, 2014, many people are not aware of the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women.  In fact, someone dies from heart disease in the United States every 90 seconds.  Unfortunately, 30% of adults are not doing anything to reduce their risk of developing heart disease.  Furthermore, according to the ABC News report, while we can't completely eliminate our heart attack risk, taking a few simple actions can cut your risk in half.

The specialists who were interviewed for the ABC report said there were five things people should do to reduce their risk of a heart attack:

* Eat right
* Get exercise
* Lower your blood pressure if it is elevated
* Stop smoking (or don't start)
* Lower your cholesterol if it is elevated

Eat Right

Reduce your sodium intake.  In particular, they mentioned that people should watch the amount of sodium in bread products.  Many bread products, including bagels, waffles, pancake mixes, bread dressing, etc., contain a lot more sodium than people realize.

People should also lower the amount of sugar and unhealthy fats that they consume.  Many people mindlessly consume far more sugar than they know, simply by having a soda and a pastry every day.  Everyone should avoid saturated fats from animal sources, as well as transfats or partially hydrogenated fats.  Replace these bad fats with reasonable amounts of healthy fats, such as olive oil and coconut oil.

Get Exercise

You don't have to become an athlete.  However, everyone should walk for at least 30 minutes three times a week.  This is a reasonable goal and will probably encourage you to walk even more frequently, for longer distances, as time goes by. 

Lower Your Blood Pressure If It is Elevated

If you follow the first three suggestions by eating right, reducing your sodium intake and getting exercise, your blood pressure may stay within the normal blood pressure range without a problem.  However, if your blood pressure remains high, you should consider taking medication for it.  High blood pressure not only contributes to heart disease, but is also a factor in strokes, kidney disease and other health issues.

Stop Smoking

Every smoker already knows that this habit contributes to a wide variety of health problems, so I will not nag you about it!

Lower Your Cholesterol If It is Elevated

Avoiding sugar, saturated fats and transfats should go a long way towards lowering your cholesterol level.  However, for some people, diet and exercise alone are not adequate.  If you are one of those people, it is important to take the appropriate medication so that plaque does not build up in your veins.

More Ideas for a Healthy Heart

The February, 2014 issue of Reader's Digest also put together their own list of easy things people can do to reduce their heart attack risk.  Some of these suggestions are so appealing that it may be worth it to pick out two or three and give them a try!

Drink three cups of tea a day 
Eat less meat
When you do eat meat, choose products with no antibiotics, hormones or additives
Eat more sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and herring
Get more physical activity
Practice yoga for a few minutes a day
Love a pet
Sit in a sauna ... especially an infrared sauna
Compile a gratitude list
Have sex at least twice a week
Open your windows and let out the polluted indoor air
Clean with vinegar, lemons, baking soda and cornstarch
Get rid of your plastic food containers and use glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers instead.


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1 comment:

  1. These are all very good thoughts on heart health. I'm very focused on avoiding sugar and recently switched to Almond Milk because I didn't realize how much sugar I was taking in when I drink regular milk. Most people aren't aware of how much sugar they consume each day with products that are not necessarily sweet like soups, breads, healthy cereals, etc.

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