Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. While there are a few factors that increase the risk for heart disease that are out of your control, there are many things that contribute to heart disease that can be controlled to maintain a healthy heart.
Genetics or Family History - If you have a family member who had heart disease at an early age (before the age of 60), your risk for heart disease increases. If you have a family history, you need to pay special attention to your blood pressure, body weight and cholesterol levels.
Age - The risk for heart disease increases for men after the age of 45 and for women after the age of 55. If you are above these ages, ask your doctor about taking a low-dose aspirin (81 mg) every day to help prevent a heart attack.
Gender - Men have a greater risk factor of a heart attack than woman do and they have them earlier in life.
Smoking or Tobacco Use - The chemicals in tobacco make the heart work harder. Smoking and using tobacco also damages the arteries in your heart and the rest of your body. Fatty deposits stick to these damaged arteries and cause blockages. Smoking and using tobacco is the worst thing that you can do for your heart. Find a way to quit. Call (740) 687-8261 for help.
High Blood Pressure - When your blood pressure is high, there is extra pressure on your artery walls damaging the lining of the arteries. You can control blood pressure by taking your prescribed medicine, eating less salt or sodium, exercising regularly and learning to manage stress. A normal blood pressure reading is less than or equal to 120/70. If your blood pressure is above 130/80, ask your doctor about medicine and/or exercise to lower your blood pressure.
Being Overweight - Being overweight makes your heart work harder. People who are overweight are more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Measure your waistline. Men with a waistline of more than 40 inches, and women with a waistline of more than 35 inches, are risk for heart disease. For more information on healthy weight loss, call (740) 687-8078.
Diabetes or High Blood Sugar - When your blood sugar is too high, it damages the arteries and increases your chances of having heart disease and heart attack. Diabetes is diagnosed when your fasting blood sugar is greater than 100 mg/dL. If you have high blood sugar or diabetes, be sure to follow a diabetic diet, exercise regularly, keep a healthy body weight and take your medicine. For more information on diabetes, call (740) 687-8492.
High Cholesterol - Cholesterol is a fat that travels through the body in the blood. If there is too much cholesterol in the blood, the extra amount builds up in the arteries. To lower your cholesterol, eat less saturated fat and hydrogenated oils (trans fat).
These are “bad fats” and cause your LDL level to be high. Avoid fried and fatty foods such as French fries, packaged cookies and fatty meats. Triglycerides are also bad. This level is increased by sugary foods and alcohol. Diabetics tend to have higher triglycerides.
There are “good fats” called HDL that help protect your heart and body from the build up of plaque. Eat foods that are high in healthy good fats such as almonds, walnuts and baked fish. Look for food labeled “high in omega-3 fatty acids". Eat foods that are high in fiber such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Recommended cholesterol labs are as follows:
Total Cholesterol - Less than 200 mg/dL
LDL - Less than 100 mg/dL
HDL - Greater than 40 mg/dL for men; greater than 50mg/dL for women (The higher the better!)
HDL - Greater than 70 mg/dL if have known heart disease
Triglycerides - Less than 150 mg/dL
Your doctor may prescribe medicine to help control cholesterol.
A Sedentary Lifestyle - Lack of regular exercise can cause heart disease. Exercise strengthens the heart, keeps the arteries healthy, lowers blood pressure, relieves stress, lowers cholesterol and helps diabetics control blood sugar. Experts recommend exercising for at least 30 minutes four to six times a week. The best exercise for the heart is aerobic exercise such brisk walking, biking or running. If you have a history of heart disease, heart attack, angioplasty, a stent and/or bypass surgery, ask your doctor about cardiac rehabilitation. You may call (740) 687-8174 for more information or to inquire about our Healthy Living Program.
Stress - When you are under stress, your body makes chemicals that can cause heart disease. Too much stress can raise blood pressure and blood sugar. There are healthy ways to manage stress such as exercise, meditation and relaxation. Consider taking a stress management class. Ask your doctor for more information.
Alcohol - Drinking alcohol in excess increases the risk of high blood pressure, obesity and stroke. Too much alcohol can raise fat levels in the blood (triglycerides).
For more information, call (740) 687-8261.