Know your heart health. It could save your life

March 15, 2018

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. It’s important for you to know the causes and learn how you can make changes that reduce your risk of developing heart disease. There are a number of factors that can lead to heart disease. These include being overweight, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes and bad eating habits.

Ways to lower your risk.

Making smart lifestyle choices can make a big difference. There are things you can do to help reduce your risk of heart disease, like eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, getting regular exercise and limiting how much alcohol you drink. If you smoke, try to quit. And see your doctor regularly.

Know your numbers.

About half of Americans have at least one of the warning signs of heart disease. It’s important to see your doctor at least once a year; more often if there is heart disease in your family. Your doctor can check your blood sugar, blood pressure, waist size, cholesterol level and body mass index (BMI). If you haven’t seen your doctor recently, make an appointment today.

Know your blood pressure.

Blood pressure is the amount of force your blood creates inside your arteries. It’s written as 2 numbers: 1 on top and 1 on the bottom. Systolic pressure is the top number. It measures how hard your blood vessels are working when your heart beats. Diastolic pressure is the bottom number. It measures how hard your blood vessels are working when your heart is resting between beats. If you have diabetes or kidney disease, you need to keep your top number lower than 130. The bottom number should be lower than 90.

Know your cholesterol.

Your body has 2 kinds of cholesterol: LDL (or “bad”) and HDL (or “good”). Eating foods with “bad” cholesterol can cause buildup in the arteries that bring blood to your heart and brain. That can cause a heart attack or stroke. Eating foods with “good” cholesterol helps avoid heart attacks. These foods carry bad cholesterol to your liver. Your liver removes it from your body. To control your cholesterol levels, you should eat less food that has “saturated fat” or “trans fat” or “dietary cholesterol.” Being physically active can raise your “good” cholesterol.

Know your Body Mass Index (BMI).

Body mass index (BMI) is a number created from a person’s weight and height. For most people, BMI shows your body fat. It’s used to show if your weight may cause problems. Your heart has to work harder if you have too much weight. That makes your blood pressure higher. Your cholesterol goes up. And that can cause you to get diabetes. You can reduce your chance of getting heart disease by losing as little as 10–20 pounds.

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