Lifestyle changes lead to healthy heart

| February 10, 2012 | 0 Comments

Carrie Shult
U.S. Army Public Health Command

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND — In the U.S., heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women.

Heart disease affects millions of Americans. The American Heart Association estimates that someone will have a heart attack about every 34 seconds.

Research about heart disease risk factors suggests that making even small lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke and other serious cardiovascular conditions.

Here are some ways to take care of your heart:

•Get moving! If you sit a lot, try to sit less.

•If you have a job where you are at your computer a lot, add a reminder to your electronic calendar every hour to stand up and walk away, do 15 push-ups, get some fresh air.

•Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

•Avoid being the parking lot shark — lurking around waiting for an open spot in front. Park away from your destination, so you can get some extra steps in.

•Step, march or jog in place for at least 15 minutes while watching television. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week or more.

•Walk. Get a step counter and set a goal to walk at least 10,000 steps, daily. Just get moving.

•Maintain ideal weight. Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. To achieve long-term weight loss, don’t skip meals, but eat 200-300 calories less each day. These calories amount to one slice of bread, one pat of butter or one-half cup of regular soda. Again, eat smaller portions and do eat breakfast every day.

•Make a yearly date with your doctor. Get your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar checked. Put the date on the calendar as a special date, just like birthdays or anniversaries or the Super Bowl.

•Control high blood pressure. Blood pressure that is higher than 120/80 is known to increase the risk of heart disease. By managing your blood pressure you are lowering your risk of heart attack.

•Quit tobacco use. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and raises blood pressure. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, including the heart, blood vessels, lungs, eyes, mouth, reproductive organs, bones and digestive organs.

•Cut down on alcohol. Too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, cause heart failure and lead to a stroke. If you drink alcohol, drink a moderate amount, which equates to an average of one drink for women and two drinks for men per day.

One drink is a 12-ounce can of beer or 4 ounces of wine, or 1-1/2 ounces of liquor.

•Manage your stress. People can have a healthier heart when they reduce stress. Stress raises blood pressure and can damage the arteries. Learn how to manage your stress by using relaxation methods, such as deep-breathing exercises, counting to 10 and meditation.

Overall, do your part. Note to self that heart disease is preventable. Take charge of your health by making positive lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Small steps count, so start today.

Heart health

For more information about taking care of your heart, visit these sites:

• American Heart Association,

• National Institutes of Health,



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Category: Community, Health

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