Lifestyle can decrease risk of heart disease
February is National Heart Month. Wear something red each Friday in February to remind yourself and others that the risks of heart disease can be lowered with lifestyle adjustments.
Many of the reasons some people deal with cardiac issues run in families. Weak heart valves, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries and fast heartbeats, to name a few, are influenced by heredity.
No one gets out of this life alive but with preventative measures, the timing of a life-threatening cardiac episode can be controlled. A recent study, published in the Journal of American Medical Association, found that positive lifestyle choices reduce the risk of cardiac disease even in those with a high family risk.
The more a person sticks to a healthy lifestyle, the better they are in terms of reducing the risk of heart complications. The decision to adopt a healthier lifestyle often follows a life-threatening event, the sooner the better in the case of heart disease.
Studies have identified one more reason to stay physically fit, eat healthier foods, stop or never start smoking and maintain a weight that doesn’t cause too much stress on the body. People who do so are less likely to die from a sudden heart attack death.
A cardiac healthy lifestyle includes more fruits and vegetables. Increased fiber in the diet decreases build up of plaque in the arteries. Less plaque in arteries decreases blockage to the heart. Just being told to eat more fruits and vegetables for fiber may not mean much to some people but understanding the reason may convince folks to grab a stalk of celery or an apple daily.
We used to believe that following a low-fat or no-fat diet was the only way to prevent heart disease but medical research has new information. Sticky types of fiber foods, such as oats, barley, eggplant, okra and psyllium, otherwise known as Metamucil, eaten daily clean arteries better than some medications.
Nuts used to be on the no-no list for people with a high risk of cardiac disease. They are high in fat but studies have revealed that the type of fat is not the harmful type but the helpful kind. Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans and pistachio nuts can reduce blood cholesterol. They are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids; walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy. All nuts are high in calories, a handful, 1.5 ounces, daily will do the trick.
It is difficult to discuss lifestyle changes in Americans without considering the activity of a person. One study decided to look at exercise in a different manner. Instead of chastising people for not exercising the report revealed that people are sitting too much. Less time on the derriere can mean more time breathing air. Less time in chairs means more time that a person cares about their health, that is. Less time on your butt means more time out of a rut.
I’m not a poet but more plants, nuts and less sittin’ can make the difference between a heart that’s a pumpin’ and a heart that is quittin’.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator and a registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a diabetes self-management training program at Aultman-Orrville Hospital in Orrville. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330–684-4776.