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Be Heart Smart (and very honest)

Feb 06, 2015 by Heather

We celebrate love, give chocolates, and send roses during heart month.  The best advice – from my heart to yours – this February is to make the health of your heart a priority.  It’s a muscle, it’s a vital organ, and it’s a powerful pump.  Sure, we hope it is filled with love and many Valentine wishes on February 14, but more importantly I hope your heart is strong, efficient, and serves your body well.

Heart disease education often includes messages on recognizing signs & symptoms, new treatment options, and of course the power of prevention.  Just like cancer, osteoporosis, and Type II diabetes, it is much easier (and much less expensive) to prevent disease than it is to treat it.  Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) continues to be our nations #1 killer. 

A classic response for many is to blame their high blood pressure or trip to the Cath lab table on their genes.  Sure, grandpa’s elevated cholesterol might have something to do with your high LDL but if we are honest (sometimes very honest) we might place a little blame on the mirror.  The salted, fried (and sometimes super-sized) shoe-string-sliced potatoes aren’t forced on us.  The TV, instead of the Treadmill, spends more quality time with us daily.  The majority of risk factor that increase or decrease our risk for heart disease are MODIFIABLE.  We control them by the choices we make (or don’t make) each day.

If we take it 1 step further and make a prediction on which modifiable risk factor controls the rest of the list, the answer is being overweight or obese.  We don’t like to admit it, but the scale (and even where we store our body fat) can control many other risks for heart disease. 

Think about it –

  Losing weight often lowers blood pressure.

  Eating healthier and exercising improves lipid (cholesterol) levels.

  Exercising lowers stress levels.

  Eating healthier and exercising lowers risk of developing Type II diabetes.

Aside from smoking (which significantly raises risk for heart disease), body weight is the #1 modifiable risk for heart disease that we should strive to control.  It ultimately will have a healthy impact on other risk factors. 

A great on-line research for more information on how to control your risk can be found at www.americanheart.org and www.goredforwomen.org.  Know your risks … Lower your risk … Strive to be heart smart this February and every month of the year. Your heart (and your loved ones) will thank you next Valentine’s Day!

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