Healthy lifestyle keeps heart fit
By Melissa Albalos , 60th Medical Group
/ Published February 23, 2006
TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
February is officially known as “Heart Awareness Month.”
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of people in the world.
Heart disease occurs when the coronary arteries — which are the arteries that supply your heart with oxygen rich blood — become clogged or blocked.
Clogging of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, occurs when cholesterol and other fatty substances in your blood start to collect on the damaged artery walls.
Too much build up of fatty substance starts to produce layer upon layer until it eventually begins to form a harder substance known as plaque.
This new plaque build up narrows the arteries, which then starts reducing or blocking the flow of blood to the heart.
Since heart disease is a “silent” disease, people are not aware of the plaque building up in their arteries.
For most people, having a heart attack is usually the first sign of something going wrong.
A heart attack occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the heart become completely blocked. Heart attacks cause permanent damage to your heart, if not death.
The American Heart Association has listed three simple steps in preventing heart disease.
They are called the “ABC’s of preventing heart disease” and include: Avoiding tobacco; Becoming more active, and; Choosing good nutrition.
A healthy lifestyle is your best defense against heart disease. It’s your responsibility to change; by following these ABC’s, you reduce all of the modifiable risk factors for heart disease.
Smokers are at twice the risk of suffering a heart attack than nonsmokers. By choosing to stop smoking you reduce a major risk factor for heart disease.
Another healthy lifestyle change is choosing to lower your cholesterol which can be done by reducing your intake of saturated and trans fats.
Lowering your blood pressure and becoming more physically active also contributes to reducing the risk of a heart attack.
Being physically active for 30 to 60 minutes a day can help lower your blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy weight.
Other healthy lifestyle changes can also make a huge difference in reducing the risk of heart disease, including managing your diabetes, limiting your alcohol consumption and reducing stress levels.
Put all of these combined efforts together and you’re on your way to living a healthier and much more fulfilling lifestyle away from heart disease.
For more information regarding heart disease or any other risk factors that may contribute to heart disease, contact the David Grant USAF Medical Center’s Population Health office at 423-7867.
Heart healthy workout quiz
1. Regular physical activity is important for a healthy heart. What other steps can you take to reduce your risk of heart disease?
a. Stop smoking
b. Reduce high blood pressure
c. Maintain normal cholesterol levels
2. What are some ways you can work up a “healthy heart sweat”?
a. Sitting in a sauna
3. Regular physical activity can benefit your heart and well-being by improving which of the following?
a. Blood cholesterol
b. High Blood Pressure
c. Energy level
d. Sleeping patterns
4. True or False: A heart healthy exercise schedule should involve at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.
5. What are the ABC’s in preventing heart disease?
Answers to Quiz
1. A, B, C
2. B, C, D
3. A, B, C, E
5. Avoid tobacco, Become more active, Choosing good nutrition.