Better Heart Health With 6 Simple Tips

Better Heart Health With 6 Simple Tips

Better heart health does not happen over night or without some effort.

If you strive for better heart health, and we all should, there are some decisions you can make to get you started on the path to better heart health and decrease your risk of heart attacks, strokes and peripheral vascular disease.

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The following are 6 tips you can do today to boost your heart health, so you don’t fall victim to heart attacks, strokes, or peripheral vascular disease:

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Coronary Artery Disease

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Look through your pantry.

There are things you can eat that will increase your risk for heart disease, just as there are things you can eat that will reduce your risk of heart disease.

Check your pantry for foods that are high in cholesterol, such as meats, high fat dairy products, and certain processed foods.

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Heart Healthy Diet

Processed foods are also high in bad fats, such as trans fats, although the US government has made progress in reducing trans fats in the foods you purchase. Look for foods that are high in dietary sugar and replace them with low sugar foods and foods that contain no sugar.

Instead of red meat, you can choose fatty fish, which are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which are considered heart healthy.

Instead of cakes and cookies, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with whole fruits, which are high in dietary fiber and antioxidants, which have health benefits you can’t get through eating low fiber, high sugar foods.

2. Start an exercise program.

This means getting off the couch and getting out there to do some form of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is particularly good at increasing your heart rate, increasing your respiratory rate, and lowering your blood pressure.

You should aim to exercise in an aerobic exercise about 30 minutes per day on most days of the week.

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Tools For Better Heart Health

Aerobic exercises you can do include brisk walking, running, jogging, using a stair-stepper, bicycling, and swimming. Swimming is especially good for people who want to exercise but cannot tolerate the wear and tear on the joints.

You should also consider doing some kind of weight training about two days per week.

Weight training tones muscles and increases your basal metabolic rate so that you can burn calories more effectively, even without exercising.

You should make exercise a family affair so you can do things as a group and reduce all of your family’s risks of heart disease.

3. Schedule a blood sugar screening.

You can reduce your risk of heart disease by having your blood sugar checked for the presence of diabetes or pre-diabetes.

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Monitoring Blood Glucose

Both conditions can be detected by doing a fasting blood test. Values of blood glucose that are between 100 and 125 on a fasting basis mean you have pre-diabetes and should follow your blood sugars more closely so you don’t develop diabetes mellitus.

Fasting blood sugars of 125 or more mean you have diabetes and must do things like lower your blood glucose levels such as eat a low sugar diet, exercise, and take medications to reduce your blood sugar. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease but it is a risk factor you can reverse if you follow your doctor’s instructions.

4. Schedule a sleep study.

If you are told that you snore, you may be suffering from sleep apnea, which is a known risk factor for heart disease. When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing during your sleep and wake up suddenly, gasping for air even though you don’t remember it in the morning.

Sleep apnea will raise your blood pressure during the day, not to mention that it makes you tired during the daytime.

If you are effectively diagnosed with sleep apnea and undergo treatment (which can mean using continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP, or make steps to reduce your weight), you can lessen your risk for heart disease and can have a better quality of life.

5. Reduce your stress level.

Stress will raise your blood pressure and your heart rate, both things that cause you to have an increased risk of stress on your heart.

You can reduce stress by avoiding those things that cause you to be stressed and can learn the art of several stress-reducing practices, including meditation, yoga, tai chi, and qi dong.

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Stress Management for Better Health Health

Some of these practices have more benefit to your body besides reducing stress, such as increasing flexibility, strength, and balance.

 

 

6. Schedule a cholesterol check.

Cholesterol in your bloodstream can cause a buildup of cholesterol-containing plaques that increase the risk of blood clots that can cause various types of heart disease.

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Managing Cholesterol

Know what your cholesterol should be and how to manage it.

Your cholesterol test (Lipid profile) should reveal your total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Your goal for total cholesterol should be less than 200.

 

 

You can lower your cholesterol by eating foods low in cholesterol and saturated fats, or by taking medication that will lower your cholesterol level.

Your total cholesterol is made up of the HDL (high density lipoprotein) and the higher the better. An HDL less than 35 is a risk factor for developing heart disease (coronary atherosclerosis). Aerobic acitivity, proper dieting, and medication will increase your HDL.

Your LDL (Low density lipoprotein) is responsible for the development of hardening of the arteries. Over time the recommended levels have changed. If you have no risk factors for heart disease your goal should be to get your LDL less than 130. If you have 2 risk factors the goal should be less than 100. If you have diagnosed coronary artery disease your goal should be to get the LDL cholesterol less than 70. Obtaining this level usually will require medication such as the statin drugs.

Triglycerides also are part of the lipid profile and your goal should be less than 150. Some people genetically have elevated triglycerides even if they do not suffer from obesity and diabetes. Exercise, weight loss, and dietary changes will help improve your triglyceride level. Watch your intake of fatty foods, red meats and dairy products.

Now you have 6 tips for better heart health to take action on that will lower your risk of developing heart disease and the long term complications.

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Need To Know About Normal Cholesterol Levels

What Are Normal Cholesterol Levels?

Cholesterol levels are determined by a blood test showing how much of each type (good and bad) that you have in your bloodstream. Knowing what normal is will depend on your age, your sex and the country you reside in.

What’s considered to be a good level for a child would be considered off for an adult and vice versa. Some countries measure cholesterol using a different grading (such as the metric system) than other countries.

Standard is to check the levels in milligrams. You might see a reading that shows 160 mg/dL on your results. That means that your cholesterol is at 160 milligrams in a liter of blood.

Because of the abundance of fast food and sedentary lifestyles, even young children can become affected with high cholesterol. While some of it can be passed down through the family genes, usually when a child’s weight creeps up to an unhealthy level, they get the same health risks for their heart and other organs that an adult does.

The damage done to the heart in childhood can cause problems once they grow up. To treat this condition in children, lifestyle changes including diet and exercise are recommended.

Your doctor will order blood test called a lipid profile to determine your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol levels are viewed as total cholesterol and then broken down by high density lipoproteins (HDL), low density lipoproteins (LDL), very low density (VLDL) and triglycerides.

The desired total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL. If it is and it hovers in the 200-239 range, that means you have some mild health risks. Once the range reaches greater than 240, you have what’s considered high cholesterol and are at a strong risk for developing heart problems.

The total cholesterol is broken down into the HDL  (good cholesterol)  and should be a minimum of 45 mg/dl; however, the higher the HDL the better. If your reading is below 40 mg/dL, then you don’t have enough HDL in your body to help fight against the LDL cholesterol.

The LDL level (bad cholesterol) should be below 100 mg/dL especially if you have at least two risk factors for heart disease.  If it’s below 130, your doctor won’t be too concerned but if it starts to go above 160, that’s considered high.

Your VLDL cholesterol should not be above 30 mg/dL.

The desirable level for triglycerides is below 150 mg/dL, It is considered a high reading when the level hits any number over 200 mg/dL.

If you have abnormally high total cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol, or low HDL cholesterol it is imperative that you start taking the steps necessary to improves your cholesterol levels to decrease your risk of developing heart disease.

Changing your diet and adding a regular exercise routine is a great way to lower your risks. However, if your levels are already much too high, then you may need to take more aggressive steps that include medical therapy to get those levels down as quickly as possible..

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Need To Know About Cholesterol

What Is Cholesterol?

You’ve heard the doctor say to watch it. You’ve heard that some foods have an abundance of it – but exactly what is cholesterol? It’s true that cholesterol is found mainly in the types of food you eat, but that’s not the only way this waxy type of matter gets into the body.

Did you know that your liver makes cholesterol? Your body must have this substance in order to work properly and keep you in good health. When there’s an overabundance of cholesterol, that’s when health problems start building up.

Like too much of anything, a build up can damage the internal organs (the heart, liver, etc.). When you get too much cholesterol in your body, it can cause trouble for your arteries.

Imagine a drainpipe in your bathtub. What happens if it’s not treated (kept cleaned out) and deposits of hair are allowed to build up? The opening to allow water to drain gets smaller and smaller. Then one day when you get into the shower, the water has nowhere to go, so it pools at your feet.

This is essentially what happens when you have too much cholesterol. The arteries around the heart become too narrow for blood to adequately flow. This can lead to a blocked artery, which can then cause a heart attack and damage to the heart muscle.

Some people get confused about good versus bad cholesterol because cholesterol is broken into types. So what is cholesterol when it’s grouped into categories? It’s both good and bad.

First, you have triglycerides. This is fat. You get this fat from overindulging in food (even ones that are good for you). What you eat undergoes a form change within the body and triglycerides are one of these changes that occur from certain foods being consumed.

Foods like cakes, cookies, ice cream, candy, pies, etc. Triglycerides are also formed by drinking beer and other beverages containing alcohol. Secondly, low density lipoproteins (LDL) are a type of cholesterol. This one has the most potential to cause damage to your heart.

Third, high density lipoproteins (or HDL) is a cholesterol that’s very good for your heart. Think of this one as a shield in your body trying to battle back against the bad or the LDL cholesterol.

If your doctor tells you that you need to raise your level of HDL, it’s for your heart’s protection. Finally, there’s very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) and this is also a bad cholesterol.

More importantly than wondering, ‘what is cholesterol,’ you need to know what the levels are within your body. By taking a simple blood test and sending it to a lab, you can see how much cholesterol is in your blood.

If you have good HDL levels, it’s best for your heart’s health. If the results come back showing that you have both high triglycerides as well as high cholesterol, then your heart is in danger of developing heart disease or putting you at risk of a heart attack. Depending on the results, your doctor may prescribe lifestyle changes, medication or both in order to get your levels where they need to be.

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