Heart-y, Har, Har, this is no laughing matter

Heart disease is the #1 killer of men in the United States.  Key risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Smoking

About half of Americans (49%) have at least one of these three risk factors accordng to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Additional factors for higher risk of heart disease include:

  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

While chest pain is a primary indicator of a heart attack, there are other warning signs as well.

Heart attack 2
photo from lifehacker.com.au

Tips for reducing your risk of heart disease:

  • Eat your fruits and veggies.  Increase your fruit and veggie intake and choose organic, non-GMO local produce as often as possible.
  • Eat healthy fats.  Foods high in healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados and fish have been shown to help inprove heart health.
  • Avoid trans-fats.  There are small amounts of naturally occuring trans fats in some meat and dairy, but generally the real issue is from the man made variety.  This highly processed, artificial fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil and can be seen on the label as “partially hydrogenated oil”.  Trans fats increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol and decrease your HDL (good) cholesterol.    Trans fats make foods more shelf stable and are often found in highly processed fast foods.
  • Move your body.  Daily exercise, even mild forms like walking, can decrease blood pressure, decrease stress, reduce anxiety and help achieve or maintain a healthy weight all of which decrease the risk of heart disease.
  • Monitor your blood pressure.  Be sure to get your blood pressure checked at least annually and consult with your doctor on treatment for high blood pressure.
  • De-stress.  Take steps to reduce stress levels by incorporating meditation, mindfullness, exercise and self care into the daily routine.  Create down time each day to rest, relax, breathe and de-stress.
  • Stop smoking.  There are healthier ways to de-stress.  There are great free resources on how to quit smoking on the smokefree.gov site.
  • Drink in moderation.  Excessive intake of alcohol has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.  If you believe you might have a drinking problem, you can find free resources on the aa.org site.

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