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Published on February 13, 2016

Let Your Heart Be Your Guide

February 13, 2016

heart iconWhat better time than February, American Heart Month, to learn about ways to help your heart and blood vessels be as healthy as possible? If you could spot just a few simple ways to modify your habits and reap benefits for your health, would you do it? The American Heart Association has some tips for you. Drawing on the results of extensive clinical and statistical studies, the AHA has identified six factors that can reduce your risk of a heart attack. The more factors you have, and the greater the level of each one, the greater your risk. Here are the six areas:

  • Tobacco smoke—If you smoke, you are at twice the risk of heart attack as nonsmokers. If you do not smoke but are constantly breathing secondhand smoke, your risk is still increased.
  • High blood cholesterol—Your cholesterol level is affected by age, sex, heredity, and diet. As your level rises, so does your risk. Find out your cholesterol level.
  • High blood pressure—The higher your blood pressure, the harder your heart has to work and the more at risk you are. Work with your doctor to keep track of your blood pressure and keep it at a healthy level.
  • Physical inactivity—Exercise is wonderful for your heart! The more regular and vigorous the activity the better, but even moderately intense activity can help you control cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and for some people, blood pressure.
  • Obesity and an unhealthy weight—Losing weight can be difficult, but maintaining a healthy weight is essential to good heart health. Talk to your doctor about the best way to shed extra pounds.
  • Diabetes—If you have diabetes, work with your doctor to manage your diabetes and control its side effects.

Don’t Let Stress Ruin Your Progress 

Stress can become a risk factor for heart disease if you let it. Don’t let all your good eating, sleeping, and exercise habits go out the window when you’re under stress. When you feel the pressure mounting, try to maintain your routines and good habits while practicing a stress-reduction technique that works for you. In fact, maintaining your exercise routine can be a stress reducer and may help you get through a crisis with grace and good health.

Risks You Cannot Change 

There are three risk factors for heart attack that you cannot change. That’s why it’s even more important to do all the things you can do for your heart. The three risk factors that can’t be changed are increasing age—About four out of five people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older male sex—Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women, and men have attacks earlier in life. Heredity—Children of parents with heart disease, particularly heart disease early in life, are more likely to develop it themselves.

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