The Heart Stride Challenge, organised by the Heart Health Centre, is providing a short series of weekly challenge tips for better heart health in connection with the War on Weight programme. Here's the latest....
Week 11 - Last week’s tip focused on heart disease risk factors we are unable to change (age, family history, gender, and heredity). The good news is we have tremendous power to change many of our risk factors for heart disease by making lifestyle changes and/or taking appropriate medications. Major risk factors we have control over are smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity/overweight, and diabetes.
Smoking: Smokers’ risk of developing coronary artery disease is 2-4 times that of non-smokers. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and forces your heart to work harder. Carbon monoxide reduces oxygen in your blood and damages the lining of your blood vessels.
High Blood Cholesterol: High levels of cholesterol in your blood can cause the formation of plaques and atherosclerosis. In particular, high levels of LDL (“bad cholesterol”) buildup in the inner walls of the arteries that supply blood flow to the brain and heart causing diminished blood flow.
High Blood Pressure: Uncontrolled blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of your arteries, narrowing the blood vessels in which blood can flow.
Physical Inactivity: Lack of exercise is associated with increased risk of heart disease. Regular moderate-vigorous activity can help to prevent this risk. It can assist with control of blood cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure, and obesity.
Obesity and Overweight: Excess weight increases the heart’s work. It also raises blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, and lowers HDL (“good cholesterol”) levels. It can also contribute to developing diabetes.
Diabetes: Diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing heart disease. Heart disease and stroke are the #1 causes of death and disability among people with diabetes.
It’s also important to look at the role stress, alcohol, and diet has on our hearts.
Stress: Chronic stress has been linked to higher levels of the hormone cortisol in the bloodstream which damages the heart and blood vessels. Stress may also promote unhealthy living such as overeating, smoking, and lack of exercise. Stress is a normal part of life. How you cope with stress can affect your heart health.
Alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and has been linked to heart failure. It also contributes to increased obesity. If you drink, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. 1 drink= 4oz. wine, 1oz. liquor, 12oz.beer
Diet: The food you eat (and the amount) can affect all your controllable risk factors! Eat for health! A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grain and high-fiber foods, fish, lean protein and fat-free or low-fat dairy products is the key!
This week continue to set daily step goals. Remember taking a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week (minimum 5 days) helps to protect your heart health and reduces your risk of heart disease. Every risk factor counts and having more than one risk factor is especially serious. Risk factors tend to “gang up” and worsen each other’s effects. Next week, The Heart Truth® for women. Congratulations on taking care of your heart health!
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
The Centers for Disease Control
The American Heart Association
The Heart Truth Campaign