As American Heart Month kicks off, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states we are not doing enough to control risks for it.
WE include both the people who have the risks for heart disease and the “front line” practitioners who see and treat the patients.
In case you haven’t heard, heart disease is the number one killer of men AND women in the U.S. According to the CDC, half of the U.S. adult population has high blood pressure or unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Even if you don’t have health insurance, there are many things that WE can do to cut our collective risk for heart disease that doesn’t cost anything: LIFESTYLE.
- Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. This not only costs nothing, but saves money. (1-800-QUIT-NOW can help).
- Eat a healthy, plant-based diet. Include lean protein too, and less salt. Need help? Find a Registered Dietitian.
- Move more. You don’t need a gym membership or equipment other than shoes. Walk, walk, walk.
- Aim for a healthy body mass index (BMI).
- Consume alcohol in moderation. Any type of alcohol, red wine or otherwise, is only healthy in moderation.
Genetics? It has a role, but it isn’t your destiny. My grandfather died of a heart attack at 49. My father, who has the genes and some risk factors, just turned 62 and is a healthy cancer survivor.
Gender? Men are at higher risk once they turn 45 and women at age 55. But again, lifestyle can help.
Disease? If you have high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol and/or type 2 diabetes you are at higher risk.
Don’t know your numbers? Get them checked and ask for the results. When the nurse takes your blood pressure, ask her what it was. Ask your practitioner for a blood test asking to check your cholesterol and fasting glucose. When the medical assistant or nurse calls you with results, ask for a copy or the real numbers, and don’t just accept the statement: “the doctor says you are good, keep doing what you are doing!” Find out how “good” they are. I have found people with borderline good, and a year or so later are not good anymore.