Be Heart Healthy

Recognizing World Heart Day, September 26, 2010

Taking Care of Your Heart - Warning Signs

How healthy is your heart?

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death of Americans, affecting about one-third of the population, according to the American Cancer Society.

The good news is that heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes are preventable at least 80 percent of the time. The prescription for a healthy heart is to eat nutritious meals and exercise for 30 minutes five days a week.

Not just for men. Historically heart disease has been considered a probability for men, but women are six times more likely to die of heart disease than of breast cancer.

Four risk factors women face. Men and women share traditional risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. In addition, women face four other risks that affect their heart health:

  • Metabolic syndrome – fat around the stomach, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high triglycerides.
  • Mental stress and depression.
  • Smoking – a greater risk factor for women than men.
  • Low levels of estrogen after menopause – poses a threat of developing cardiovascular disease in the small blood vessels.

Consider these suggestions from the World Heart Federation for changing your diet and improving your nutrition:

  • Read food labels before purchasing – look for items with low saturated fats and limit foods using partially hydrogenated oil or high fructose corn syrup.
  • Fry foods as little as possible.
  • Cook with olive, sunflower, corn, and canola oils or soft margarine.
  • Use low-fat margarine on bread or toast.
  • Add extra vegetables to foods, such as casseroles, soups and stews.
  • Switch to low-fat dairy products.
  • Remove fat from meats before cooking, including the skin on chicken.
  • Eat two oily fish meals weekly.
  • Snack on fresh or dried fruit, vegetable sticks or unsalted nuts.

The best way to trade bad habits for good ones is gradually – one change at a time. The best time to start is now!

Have you experienced heart problems? What are you doing to improve your heart health? I’ll gather your feedback and post it in another blog. – Ken