By now you have seen the emails or posters promoting the upcoming biometric screening in February for City employees. We have included this screening in the Well-Being program as it provides valuable information to you about your health. Blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI and blood glucose are all factors that contribute to a person’s risk of heart disease. Heart disease is the No 1. cause of death for all Americans. In fact, every year, 700,000 Americans die of heart disease; that is, 1900 people per day! By being aware of your numbers, you can take action to reduce your risk.
There are other risk factors too that can increase your risk. Some are beyond your control, like family history, your age, gender, and ethnicity. However, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, activity level, smoking and weight can be controlled. Read below to see what you can do to stay healthy.
The risk for heart disease increases as your total amount of cholesterol increases. In general, your total cholesterol goal should be less than 200 mg/dl. A diet low in cholesterol, saturated and trans fat, and simple sugars will help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for heart disease. Regular exercise will also help.
Medications are often needed to reach cholesterol goals.
Control high blood pressure. About 60 million people in the U.S. have hypertension, or high blood pressure, making it the most common heart disease risk factor. Control blood pressure through diet, exercise, weight management, and if needed, medications. Control diabetes. If not properly controlled, diabetes can contribute to significant heart damage, including heart attacks and death. Control diabetes through a healthy diet, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and taking medications as prescribed by your doctor.
Smokers have more than twice the risk for heart attack as nonsmokers. If you smoke, quit. Nonsmokers who are exposed to constant smoke (such as living with a spouse who smokes) also have an increased risk.
Many of us lead sedentary lives, exercising infrequently or not at all. People who don’t exercise have higher rates of death and heart disease compared to people who perform even mild to moderate amounts of physical activity. Even leisure-time activities like gardening or walking can lower your risk of heart disease. Most people should exercise 30 minutes a day, at moderate intensity, on most days. Exercise should be aerobic, involving the large muscle groups. Aerobic activities include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, and jogging. If walking is your exercise of choice, use the pedometer goal of 10,000 steps a day.
Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts significant strain on your heart and worsens several other heart disease risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and triglycerides. Research is showing that obesity itself increases heart disease risk.
Making changes in your lifestyle is a proven method for reducing your risk of heart disease. While there are no guarantees that a heart-healthy lifestyle will keep heart disease away, these changes will certainly improve your health in other ways, such as improving your physical and emotional well being.
Excerpted from WedMD