The ABC's of heart health
Transforming Health | 03.01.13
Megan Hernandez, the Senior Division Director for the Capital Region Division for the American Heart Association, says there’s a list of “ABC’s” to keep in mind when trying to maintain heart health.
The ABC’s are really simple.
“A” stands for appropriate aspirin therapies as directed by a physician.
“B” stands for blood pressure control.
“C” stands for cholesterol management.
And “S” is for smoking cessation.
The Million Hearts initiative was launched in order to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.
Learn more about how to keep your heart healthy in the video below:
Hernandez says that there are a few things that you should talk to your physician about when it comes to heart health.
“Typically, most normal healthy adults can be on an aspirin regimen, but they definitely want to talk with their physician before they start anything.
B- Blood pressure:
“It’s always great to sit down with your physician and have that conversation about your blood pressure and where your numbers are. At this point in time, typically, about 1 in 3 Americans have high blood pressure and only half of those people are actually treating it and have it under control.”
Changes in your lifestyle that will improve your blood pressure.
The standard blood pressure numbers are 120 over 80, so if you’re really a whole lot higher than that, your physician is probably already going to start to have those conversations with you about what you can do to get your blood pressure under control.
She explains that high blood pressure comes from being overweight, having a poor diet, and stress.
“But, it’s very simple to make changes in your lifestyle that will improve your blood pressure.”
You can control your blood pressure by exercise and eating a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables.
She advises to read food labels, as choosing foods that have the least amount of sodium, and the least amount of saturated fat, trans fats, and cholesterol will help to lower your blood pressure.
Avocados are a source for "good fat."
Cholesterol management is also important because cholesterol actually builds up in our arteries and makes it that much harder for blood to flow through them freely.
She explains, “There are what we consider good fats and bad fats. HDL is going to be those good fats, while LDL’s are going to be considered those bad fats. The bad fats build up more quickly and are harder for your body to get rid of, so that’s what ends up clogging our arteries.”
Hernandez considers anything between 200 and 240 to be a little borderline and anything over that to be high. “That’s the point where you and your physician are going to want to start to have those conversations about what you can do to lower your cholesterol.”
S- Smoking cessation:
“One of the things that we find with people who smoke is there’s always hardening of the arteries, aside from just introducing chemicals into your body constantly.”
For those people that don’t smoke she says, obviously, never start. Those who do should quit as quickly as they possibly can because there can be a dramatic increase in lung function.
People who smoke are hardening their arteries.
“The body really does bounce back from smoking if you can quit as soon as possible,” she says.
By controlling all of these risk factors for heart disease and stroke, you lessen the chance of having a heart attack by 80 percent.
“So, I think it is so important that people really understand and take charge of their heart health because a lot of those risk factors are preventable ones.”
Tell us: Do your know your ABC's? Do you have a history of heart disease in your own family? What have you done to protect yourself? Have you helped raise awareness about the disease? Please leave a comment below.
Published in Prevention