Lifestyle and Cardiovascular Disease
High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity are major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. These may be controlled by diet and exercise.
- Diet: A healthy diet is one of the easiest ways to fight heart disease. Forget about fad diets and pledge to read food labels and eat healthy — for life. Beware of saturated and trans fats, cut back on foods high in cholesterol, reduce sugar and sodium intake. Control portion sizes. If you have too much fat — especially if a lot of it is located in your waist area — you’re at higher risk of heart disease.
- Exercise: Lack of physical activity is a risk factor for heart disease and indirectly increases the risk of stroke. A little exercise goes a long way! Thirty minutes of moderate activity each day can be broken up into ten minute intervals. If it’s been awhile since you’ve exercised, start small and work your way up. Walking is a great way to begin moving toward a healthier future.
- Tobacco Smoke: Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States and a major cause of cardiovascular heart disease. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk, even for smokers. Women smokers who use birth control pills have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke than nonsmokers who use them.
Affordable Care Act and Heart Disease
Under the Affordable Care Act, all new individual and group health plans must now provide recommended preventive care and services with no co-payment, co-insurance, or deductible — that includes blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, and body mass index tests, and counseling on quitting smoking, losing weight, and maintaining a proper diet.
What are you doing for your heart this month?
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Writer Ann Pietrangelo is a regular contributor to Care2 Healthy & Green Living and Care2 Causes, and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and The Author’s Guild. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo