Monday, February 15, 2010

February is American Heart Month

This is the month set aside to call our attention to heart health, and a good time to take stock of where we are and where we are going. Are you in charge of your heart health? Or are you just along for the ride? Heart attacks are still the #1 killer of Americans, men AND women, and there is a lot we can do to avoid becoming one of those gruesome statistics.

Here is what the American Heart Association suggests that you focus on to do the right thing by your heart:
  • Watch your cholesterol. Healthy levels are generally considered to be under 200 for Total Cholesterol; greater than 60 for HDL (Good) Cholesterol; and under 100 for LDL (Bad) Cholesterol. After you have watched your cholesterol, DO something about it either by diet or medication.
  • Get regular exercise. It need not be intense but it does need to be regular. Shoot for 30 minutes a day. Walking in from the parking lot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator count. If you have no time to exercise, how will you find the time to recover from a heart attack?
  • Be aware of your blood pressure and take steps to move it into the normal range. That would be a resting blood pressure of 120/80 or less for most people. Diet, exercise and medication can all help with this.
  • Control your weight, or it will control you. The swelling (pun intended) levels of obesity among Americans is a major contributor not only to heart disease but to stroke, cancer, diabetes, asthma and osteoarthritis as well as a host to other chronic health conditions. Packing it on around your waist is especially detrimental. If you are overweight, take action. The sooner you begin the less difficult it will be to shed pounds (anyone who tells you it will be easy is a liar).
  • For the love of God, STOP SMOKING! If you can't stop on your own get help. Its an addiction not a habit. Getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you don't stop you will end up with a heart attack or coughing your cancerous lungs up. Not a pretty picture. Enough said.
  • Watch your blood sugar levels. Wild fluctuations are not only a precursor to a life taking insulin, but they are also bad for your heart. You want your fasting blood glucose level to be under 100mg/dL.
In nearly every case, the critical risk factors for heart attack (and most other chronic diseases) could have been controlled. There are more options today then ever for doing so. So use American Heart Month (not "Heart Month" and not "National Heart Month") to take stock of your own situation, identify an area or two where you could improve, and take action. Before its too late.

1 comment:

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