Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lowering heart disease rates

IN this continuous awareness campaign to mark National Heart Month, we take a look at some risk factors that causes heart diseases.

Quit smoking: Smoking is the largest preventative cause of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic lung disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and a major cause of mouth and throat cancer. Heart disease rates are 70% higher for smokers that non-smokers.

Control diabetes: Diabetes is considered a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. People with diabetes can reduce their health risk by modifying their other risk for cardiovascular disease, such as smoking, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure, excess weight and high blood cholesterol levels.

Maintain a healthy body weight: People who are overweight or obese are at risk of developing high blood pressure, high blood lipids and diabetes-all of which put them at high risk of cardiovascular or heart disease. Working to reach and maintain a healthy weight is a good way to prevent heart disease. You can achieve a healthy weight through healthy eating and active living, including exercising regularly.

Keep blood pressure at healthy levels: Losing excess weight, exercising, eating healthy, reducing salt intake and taking time to relax and manage stress levels will all help to influence blood pressure. You should have your blood pressure checked regularly; you can to your doctor’s office or even to your local drug store.

Keep cholesterol at healthy levels: Several major studies have shown that lowering blood cholesterol levels reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. Some research suggests that atherosclerosis (the build up of fatty materials, calcium and scar tissue in the arteries) may be stopped and even reversed if cholesterol levels are sharply lowered. The first step in lowering cholesterol is modifying your diet to reduce total fat consumption. There is evidence that increasing the amount of fiber is also beneficial. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and smoke free are also very important in controlling blood cholesterol.

Learn to manage stress: Stress is often associated with unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, overeating, excessive drinking and worrying. Practice some stress management techniques such as meditation or deep breathing to reduce stress. Exercise is also great for relieving stress. Also laughter has been shown to reduce the risk of suffering a second heart attack. A recent study supports the old saying that laughter is the best medicine. It found that hearty laughs helped heart patients prevent another attack. Only 10% of those in the study who laughed 30minutes each day suffered another attack while 30% of those in the study who did not laugh had another attack.




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