All Entries For heart disease
For anyone looking to lower their risk of diabetes and heart disease, an increase in physical activity is a common prescription from doctors. But often the advice ends there and patients are left asking themselves, "How much additional exercise do I need?" and, "What kinds of activity should I be doing?"
A recent study shows that even moderate increases in physical activity can have a big impact on your risk for certain diseases. Read More ›
Do you shy away from free weights at the gym? Thankfully, there are a slew of other ways to build your muscles that don’t require a pricey membership or bulky equipment. Besides the benefits of toning your body, resistance workouts help improve blood pressure and lower your diabetes risk. Strength training can also give you an instant mood boost and help fight depression, much like a brisk walk or jog around the block does. Here are easy moves you can do at home and on the go. Read More ›
Editor's Note: February is Heart Health month, aimed at bringing awareness to the #1 killer in America. Today we're sharing an interview with Dr. Patrice Desvigne-Nickens on behalf of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and The Heart Truth®. Dr. Desvigne-Nickens answered our questions via email.
DailySpark: How early should women start to take steps to protect their heart health?
Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Women need to take steps at every age to protect their heart health. Heart disease can begin early, even in the teen years, and it is important for women and girls at all ages to know about heart disease and follow a healthy lifestyle. Women in their 20s and 30s should take action to reduce their risk of developing heart disease.
DailySpark: What are the top lifestyle changes women can make to ensure their hearts stay healthy?
Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Most heart disease risk factors are preventable or controllable by making healthy lifestyle changes, including: stopping smoking, being physically active, following a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight. Additional risk factors that you can prevent and control include: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and high blood sugar or diabetes. These conditions are silent (that is you don’t have any symptoms) so you must talk with your physician and know your numbers. High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and high blood sugar are often treatable with healthy lifestyle but may require medical prescriptions.
DailySpark: Which habits harm our hearts the most?
Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Smoking, letting high blood pressure and high cholesterol go untreated, being overweight or obese, not being physically active, and not managing diabetes all can contribute to increasing a person’s risk for heart disease.
It is especially important to understand that that having more than one risk factor or condition multiplies your risk of developing heart disease. Having one risk factor doubles your risk for disease; having two risks quadruples your risk for developing disease; having three risks increases risk by tenfold. Don’t choose among risk factors, take charge and control your risks. You can reduce your risk for heart disease by over 80% by controlling risk factors and a healthy lifestyle.
DailySpark: How much impact does weight have on heart health?
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Editor's Note: We're passionate about saving lives and preventing heart disease! Please share this blog post with other women in your life. Click the buttons above to share it on social media sites or send via email.
Happy American Heart Month!
February's best-known day is Valentine’s Day, and what with all the heart-shaped things associated with that occasion, it is the perfect month to highlight heart health and share with you what you can do to protect your most precious asset. Your heart will be there for you during all of your life’s adventures, but heart disease is a big threat to all of us! Heart disease is America’s number one cause of death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 1 in 3 deaths in the US is from heart disease and stroke
- That's equal to 2,200 deaths per day.
- 2 million heart attacks and strokes occur each year
- 80,000,000 adults are affected by heart disease
- Heart disease & stroke cost the nation $444 billion/year in health care costs and lost economic productivity.
In the not too distant past, heart disease was erroneously labeled as a "man’s" disease. The seemingly healthy father that suddenly dies of a heart attack leaving young children and a wife behind is a stereotypical nightmare scenario. Views like this have placed too much emphasis on men in heart-health research, and, as a result, both treatment guidelines and public health initiatives are skewed toward men.
But are you aware of the prevalence of heart disease in women? More than 42 million women are currently living with some form of cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in America!
To change America’s perception that heart disease is a "man’s disease," the American Heart Association in 2004 created the campaign Go Red for Women to bring awareness to this largely preventative disease. Efforts such as Go Red for Women Day work because studies show that when women are aware of their risk for heart disease they are much more likely to make the effort to make the necessary lifestyle changes.
The same simple, lasting changes you're implementing as a way to lose weight will also help you keep your heart healthy: eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, don't smoke (or quit if you do), and limit your alcohol intake.
So, as women, what can we do specifically to improve our heart health? What should we be doing to keep our ticker ticking?
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Is one day of high-cholesterol eating going to hurt your health? Great question!
Dietary cholesterol usually gets a bad rap, but did you know that your body actually needs cholesterol? That's because cholesterol is a building block of body cells and hormones. It makes up 50% of your nervous system and is necessary for metabolism, too. In moderate amounts, it is essential to good health. But like many things in life, too much of a good thing can lead to problems. Read More ›
Cooking for a healthy heart is a passion of mine. Both my grandmother and cousin died young from heart disease, which is the number one killer in the United States. The exciting thing is that it's preventable with diet and exercise. Limiting sodium and eating good fats are a great place to start. For more information on heart-healthy cooking, watch Chef Meg's cooking video on SparkRecipes. Here are some of my favorite recipes. Read More ›
"Consult a physician before using this equipment."
Have you seen this statement before? If the exercise equipment was manufactured in the last 30 years or so, this statement or a similar disclaimer is likely placed somewhere in small print. I see it (well, ignore it) just about every day when I step onto my elliptical. Gyms, exercise videos, and weight-loss reality shows for example all typically have similar disclaimers such as "consult a physician before starting any exercise program."
Even though we tend to ignore them, they're there!
Have you seen the one that reads: "stop exercising if you feel pain, faint, dizziness or shortness of breath"? This one may leave you thinking "you forgot sweat." Take it from someone who has gone from a sedentary to active lifestyle. I felt all of those things (still do on days when I do strength training for my legs)! I didn’t exercise to extreme pain, I never passed out, and I didn't feel severe pain, but certainly I felt all of those symptoms to some extent!
I’m sure many of you do what I did when I started exercising. I completely disregarded the warnings and started working out because I was tired of being overweight and unfit. I didn’t want to overcome yet another obstacle by waiting to talk to my doctor. (Doctors are notorious for being bad patients, by the way.)
Let’s get serious for a few moments and examine these disclaimers. Let's determine whether you actually need to consult with a physician before embarking on your exercise plan.
I feel slightly conflicted: I ignored the ubiquitous warnings to consult my doctor before I started working out 140 pounds ago, but I'm encouraging you as SparkPeople members to take an extra step to visit a physician before engaging in an exercise program. I know that when the inspiration to change strikes you need to take advantage of it, but as a doctor I know it's better to be safe than sorry (and SparkPeople agrees--and includes such a warning in the site's terms and conditions).
Thankfully, most people who choose to disregard these disclaimers do not suffer any consequences. But, some people will find out that they have a heart condition during exercise, injure themselves, or exacerbate their existing medical conditions. They may not even realize that they are putting their health at risk by trying to do what they believe is the right thing. The rest of you will be relieved to know that you can start exercising without pulling out your wallet for a co-pay (and not sitting in the waiting room at the height of flu season).
So how do you know which group you're in? Should you see your doctor or not?
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According to the National Stroke Association, a stroke or "brain attack" is the third leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability. Since up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable, knowing what you can do to reduce your risk is very important.
Everyone has some risks of stroke due to age, gender, race, and family history that can't be changed. These uncontrollable risks make it is even more important to control the risk factors that you can. According to a recent international analysis report, people that eat fish a couple times a week have a slightly smaller risk of suffering a stroke compared to those individuals that do not. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans increase the amount and variety of seafood they consume by choosing more seafood each week as a protein source in place of other meat and poultry options. Fish provides a variety of beneficial nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and selenium. Any or all of these nutrients could be the key to reducing stroke. Regardless of the reasoning, the analysis found that people who ate the most fish were 12 percent less likely to have a stroke compared to those people that ate the least.
Here are seven other key ways to reduce your stroke risk in addition to including more fish in your diet.
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Even though we have written about hands-only CPR several times here on the dailySpark, we would like to share a fun video with you to help save lives. Ken Jeong, an actor/comedian/physician, teamed up with the American Heart Association to create this funny video using a popular disco tune to help continue promoting hands-only CPR. As you watch the video below, you will see that the video offers some simple tips on how to perform hands-only CPR, which will hopefully get people to be less afraid, but more willing to perform CPR when needed. Read More ›
When I'm busy at work, I can easily go a few hours without getting up to move around. All of a sudden I'll look at the clock and think "Geez, when was the last time I stood up?" So I'll take a quick break, even if it's just to walk down the hall or go to the bathroom. I find those quick breaks give me a quick boost of energy and improve my concentration levels when I sit down to start working again. New research shows those quick breaks might also be keeping my weight in check and improving my health. Read More ›
What if I told you that heart disease kills more women than the next four causes of death, would that encourage you to change your lifestyle?
What if I told you heart disease takes the life of one woman every minute, would that encourage you to change your lifestyle?
What if I told you that 1 in 3 women die every year from heart disease compared to 1 in 30 who die from breast cancer, would that encourage you to change your lifestyle?
What If I told you 90 percent of us have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease, would that encourage you to change your lifestyle?
What if I told you 80% of cardiac events in women may be prevented, would that encourage you to change your lifestyle?
While these statistics provided by the American Heart Association are quite alarming, they are a reminder of the changes we can all make to reverse or at least slow down the progression of heart disease. Hope is not loss. And this is where the Go Red for Women campaign comes into play. The Go Red for Women campaign was designed to help educate women of the importance in making lifestyle changes now so that they may deter the staggering effects of heart disease later in life.
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February kicks off the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's American Heart Month along with the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign which focuses on heart health awareness for women. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States so taking care of our hearts via aerobic and strength training activities is moving us in the direction to overcoming this disease.
Aerobic activity is crucial for keeping our cardiovascular system strong and healthy, but we should not forget the role strength training plays in keeping our hearts healthy, too. According to Dr. Kenneth Cooper, AKA the Father of Aerobics, the older we are the more important strength training needs to be a part of our workout routine. In his book Start Strong, Finish Strong by the time we reach the age of 60 we should be spending 55% of our workout time toward aerobic activity, which "provides the most health benefits" and 45% of our time to strength/resistance training.
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Iíve been CPR certified for a number of years. Thankfully Iíve never had to use the techniques Iíve learned, but it always makes me feel better knowing that I could attempt to save a life if it were needed. Iíll be honest; the thought of performing CPR on someone makes me very nervous. Would I remember the order of the steps? The right number of breaths to compressions? Could I stay calm enough to do what needed to be done? The American Heart Association is promoting new guidelines that will make it easier and safer for people to help during an emergency. Wouldnít you like to learn how to help save a life? Read More ›
There are no shortcuts to living a long and healthy life. By now, it's common knowledge that exercise, a healthy diet, and abstaining from tobacco are critical lifestyle choices that help people maintain a healthy weight and reduce their risk of countless diseases, including heart disease—the number one killer of men and women in the United States. Still, Americans are getting heavier—and unhealthier—despite a growing library of scientific evidence telling us what we should and shouldn't do in order to prevent these problems.
We know what to do. We know which foods are healthy and which ones aren't. We know that we should exercise more, combat stress, stop smoking and get more sleep (among other things). The problem lies in actually DOING it.
How do people change a lifetime of poor habits? How do you lose weight when a toxic food environment tempts you with unhealthy fare to eat at every turn? How do you stick with an exercise plan when it's uncomfortable—or just plain easier to relax on the couch after a stressful day at work? WHY aren't we doing what we know we should be doing?
To answer these questions, the American Heart Association (AHA) looked at 74 published studies on weight-loss, physical activity, and dietary interventions to find out which behavior-change strategies helped people reach their goals and stay heart-healthy. They weren't looking for what to eat or how to exercise; they searched for the specific habits, behaviors and strategies that helped people adopt these healthier habits and stick with them. Their findings, released online last week (view the statement in its entirety here), will also appear in the July 27 issue of Circulation.
They discovered that adopting a healthy lifestyle could boost Americans' average life expectancy by almost 7 years—and doing so is easier than you may think. Read More ›