8 Ways to Help Your Heart. Part 2

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 11:06
Posted in category Health

Get regular blood pressure checks — As it is with cholesterol, the higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk for heart disease. Readings between 80/50 and 130/85 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) are generally considered normal. But since individual levels can vary, talk with your doctor about what’s best for you and how to achieve it.

Exercise — Regular physical activity improves blood circulation throughout the body, allowing your heart, lungs and other muscles and organs to work together more effectively. Most doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week — although according to the “2000 Heart and Stroke Statistical Update,” only 22 percent of Americans follow this advice. But statistics prove it’s undoubtedly worth it: Regular exercise can decrease your risk of heart attack by up to 50 percent.

Avoid obesity — Harvard health experts say being more than 20 percent over your ideal body weight can lead to a number of heart disease risk factors, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

Avoid too much alcohol — According to Harvard researchers, moderate drinking (meaning one or two drinks a day) may decrease your chances of developing heart disease. More than that raises your risk.

Chill out — Stress itself probably doesn’t cause heart disease. But when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to grab a doughnut, smoke a cigarette or flop on the couch — all unhealthy habits that contribute to heart disease, many health experts say.

Consider adding vitamin E to your diet — An AHA study found that carefully controlled doses of vitamin E were 75 percent effective in preventing heart attacks during an 18-month study. Although the AHA does not officially encourage people to take antioxidants (vitamins E and C, selenium and beta carotene) to help prevent heart disease, some officials there do tout their possibilities. But you should always talk with your doctor before starting any kind of vitamin regime.

“Most women don’t know that heart disease has been the biggest killer of women since 1908,” Libov said. Her latest book on heart disease, “The Women’s Heart Book,” second edition (Hyperion, $14.95), is scheduled for release during American Heart Month in February 2001. “But it’s becoming more and more important for women to be proactive and look out for their own health. My hope is that younger women get this message, too, when they can really lay the groundwork for keeping their hearts healthy.”

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