LINKS TO LIVING LONGER
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WHAT TO DO TO LOWER RISKS and LIVE LONGER
Yesterday, experts in cardiovascular disease prevention published new guidelines for heart and vascular health. Based on hundreds of clinical research studies, this is the latest science-based analysis on heart disease and stroke prevention. Source: American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.
My father died in 1960 of coronary heart disease. He was 52 years old. His first heart attack occurred at age 46. Like many people today, he had familial cholesterol elevation and smoked. Had he known what actions to take to improve his health and the opportunity to take a statin drug to lower his cholesterol, I’m sure he would have added many years to his life. With the new guidelines, we all have the Links to Living Longer.
The information below is provided to help others take steps to improve cardiovascular health and live longer through healthy actions. I appreciate feedback and questions.
Betty Kuffel, MD
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Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death.
It is preventable and treatable.
Many people do not follow lifestyle recommendations and do not take medications known to prolong life. These guidelines provide a standardized basis for the best approach to reduce risks and save lives.
LINKS TO HEART HEALTH
Calculate your calorie requirements and follow a Mediterranean or plant-based diet that includes a predominance of fresh foods with 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, high fiber and whole grain foods, fat-free or low-fat milk products, nuts, lean meat/poultry/fish, limit saturated fat and trans fat, limit sweets and added sugar.
Reduce High Blood Pressure
See your physician for a health evaluation and laboratory studies. Blood pressure monitoring and treatment may be necessary. Reducing salt/sodium intake below 2,000/ day is recommended for most adults. Monitor your own blood pressure and read food labels. Avoiding processed food and salty soups will help reduce blood pressure.
Reduce High Cholesterol
Because of common inherited disorders many people cannot reduce cholesterol to healthy levels even when eating a low fat vegetarian diet and attaining low weight. Some must take a drug to treat the abnormal lipids. (Lipid is a generic term for fat and cholesterol.)
If Necessary, Take Statins
Statins are the most effective drugs to reduce harmful LDL cholesterol. The new guidelines strongly recommend the use of statins while at the same time decreasing your intake of all types of saturated fat including full fat milk products, coconut/palm oil, and all trans fats found in “partially-hydrogenated” fat products. These include margarine and many commercial baked goods. Under new guidelines statins are indicated for people diagnosed with heart disease, Type 2 diabetics aged 40-75, and an LDL of 190 or higher, and other factors if determined to be at risk. LDL is the bad cholesterol. Remember – taking a statin does not mean you can continue to eat bacon cheeseburgers – healthy eating is imperative to reduce risks of heart disease even when taking statins.
If you are overweight like most Americans, no matter what your age, you are at higher risk for arterial heart disease and vessel disease throughout your body. Children as young as five years old, who are obese, are at risk for early heart disease and diabetes.
With weight gain, fat accumulates in the body contributing to high LDL (bad) cholesterol, higher triglycerides and high blood pressure. All are known to be detrimental to health.
In addition, weight gain correlates with the development of Type 2 diabetes and blood glucose elevation making your risk of heart disease even higher. Avoid diabetes. Treat pre-diabetes (mild elevations of blood glucose).
To calculate your ideal weight and develop a plan for better heart health, see your physician for guidance. Note: Many websites such as www.realage.com provide calculators for calorie needs and BMI to determination obesity range. BMI is Body Mass Index. Knowing these guidelines will help you take appropriate action to reduce your health risks.
Risk reduction recommendations include activities such as brisk walking for 40 minutes at least 3-4 times a week.
Factors contributing to cardiovascular health include: race, gender, age, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure, cholesterol abnormalities, excessive weight, diabetes and tobacco use are high risk factors contributing to arterial narrowing, heart disease and stroke.
GOOD NEWS – YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR HEALTH RISKS
ATTAIN NORMAL WEIGHT
AVOID SUGAR AND SATURATED FATS
AVOID BLOOD GLUCOSE ELEVATION
TAKE BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATION IF NECESSARY
TAKE A STATIN MEDICATION IF NECESSARY TO CONTROL CHOLESTEROL
PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
IF HEART DISEASE RUNS IN YOUR FAMILY, A NEW RECOMMENDATION IS TO DO BLOOD LIPID LEVELS IN CHILDREN SO INTERVENTIONS CAN START AT A YOUNG AGE. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO EDUCATE CHILDREN ON DIET AND EXERCISE BECAUSE OBESE CHILDREN HAVE INCREASED HEART DISEASE, BLOOD PRESSURE AND DIABETES RISKS THAT CAN BE IMPROVED WITH PROPER CHOICES.