Top 10 Commandments For A Healthy Heart
In 2012, The Heart Truth marks a decade of commitment to
women's heart health. During February's American Heart Month, the National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) reaffirms its commitment to increasing
heart disease among women and helping women take steps to reduce their own
personal risk of developing heart disease.
To make women more aware of the danger of heart disease, the National Heart,
Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and partner organizations are sponsoring a
national campaign called The Heart Truth®. The campaign's
goal is to give women a personal and urgent wakeup call about their risk of
heart disease. The campaign is especially aimed at women ages 40 to 60, the age
when a woman's risk of heart disease starts to rise. The Red Dress®,
specifically, continues to be an essential part of inspiring women to take
heart-healthy steps. Sixty-five percent of women—up from 45 percent in
2005—report that the Red Dress, along with related health information, would
prompt them to talk to their doctor about heart health or heart disease, and
two-thirds of women agree that the Red Dress makes them want to learn more about
In support of the The Heart Truth campaign, Women Fitness team
elaborates on the ten commandments for a healthy heart:
your risk factors for heart disease- Risk factors are conditions, habits,
family history, and other facts about yourself that make you more likely to
develop certain diseases. The more risk factors you have, the higher your risk
of getting certain diseases. Some risk factors such as age or family history
can't be controlled. But many can be controlled by making changes in the way you
live. African American, Hispanic and Native American women are all at greater
risk of heart disease than white women and are also more likely to have
contributing risk factors such as
high blood pressure,
high cholesterol levels and
Heart disease accounts for 45 percent of all deaths in women, far greater than
all cancers combined. In fact, women are four to six times more likely to die
from heart disease than they are from
breast cancer. After menopause, women are more apt to get heart disease, in
part because their body's production of estrogen drops. Women who have gone
menopause, either naturally or because they have had a hysterectomy, are
twice as likely to develop heart disease as women of the same age who have not
yet gone through menopause.
Important risk factors for heart disease that you can modify:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Being overweight
- Being physically inactive
to your doctor about reducing your risk of heart disease. Make sure you
follow-up with your health care provider every year for a checkup.
Ask your doctor about the ultra-sensitive C-reactive protein
(us-CRP) blood test. High us-CRP levels are related to an increased
risk of heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and restenosis (reclosing)
of the arteries after angioplasty procedures.
Homocysteine is a protein in the blood. High levels of
homocysteine -- above 10 -- are associated with an increased risk
cardiovascular disease. There have been conflicting studies about the
benefits and risks related to treatment of elevated homocysteine levels with
folic acid and B vitamins. Therefore, ask your doctor before taking these
Click here, to learn about more tests.
your blood pressure checked regularly- Blood pressure is the force your
blood makes against your artery walls. If this pressure is too high, over time
it can damage your artery walls. There are two kinds of pressure. Systolic is
the pressure as your heart pumps blood into your arteries. Diastolic is the
pressure between beats, when your heart relaxes. To lower your risk of heart
disease, your blood pressure should be less than 120 systolic/80 diastolic.
Know your cholesterol numbers. These are types of
found in your blood and other parts of your body. The body needs small amounts
of them to work, but too much can cause a problem. The extra amounts can cling
to, and clog, your arteries. A blood test can measure your levels of:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol –
High levels lead to buildup of
cholesterol in arteries. To lower your
heart disease risk, your LDL level should be less that 100 mg/dL.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol –
High levels of this type are actually good. HDL cholesterol helps lower the
total cholesterol level in your body. To lower your heart disease risk, your
HDL levels should be above 60 mg/dL.
Total cholesterol – This is your LDL cholesterol plus
HDL cholesterol. To lower your heart disease risk, your total cholesterol
should be less than 200 mg/dL.
Triglycerides– Another artery clogger. To lower your
heart disease risk, your triglyceride level should be less than 150 mg/dL.
your blood sugar level checked for diabetes- The only sure way to know
whether you have prediabetes is by getting a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test
or an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Healthy
sugar levels are important to everyone, not just people with diabetes.
Controlling your blood sugar starts with the basics: regular exercise, a
balanced diet, and weight control. High blood sugar isn't good -- it could
quickly put you on the path to type 2 diabetes. But keeping blood glucose from
getting too high is harder when you get older, even if you're healthy. Luckily,
exercise is an excellent antidote. Both
resistance training and
cardio exercise can help. Normally blood glucose levels stay within narrow
limits throughout the day: 4 to 8mmol/l. But they are higher after meals and
usually lowest in the morning. The ideal values are:
- 4 to 7mmol/l before meals
- less than 10mmol/l 90 minutes after a meal
- around 8mmol/l at bedtime.
Do not smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products-Smoking
cigarettes increases the risk of heart disease, which is America's number
one killer. Almost 180,000 Americans die each year from cardiovascular disease
caused by smoking. Smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and
lack of exercise are all risk factors for heart disease, but smoking alone
doubles the risk of heart disease. Among those who have previously had a heart
attack, smokers are more likely than non-smokers to have another.
for your heart health- No matter which eating plan you follow, the following
guidelines are recommended:
fat intake should be less than 30 percent of total calories daily.
Saturated fatty acid intake should be less than 10 percent of total
Polyunsaturated fatty acid intake should be no more that 10 percent of
total calories daily.
Monounsaturated fatty acids make up the rest of total fat intake, about
10 to 15 percent of total calories daily.
Cholesterol intake should be no more than 300 milligrams per day.
intake should be no more than 3000 milligrams per day.
Beware of chemicals in your food like caffeine, MSG, and other food
Don't forget that you can enjoy the taste of eating right.
Get regular physical activity- Exercise has a number of effects that
benefit the heart and circulation (blood flow throughout the body). These
benefits include improving cholesterol and fat levels, reducing inflammation in
the arteries, helping
programs, and helping to keep blood vessels flexible and open. Studies
continue to show that physical activity and avoiding high-fat foods are the two
most successful means of reaching and maintaining heart-healthy levels of
fitness and weight. For the greatest overall health benefits, experts recommend that you
do 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic activity three or more times a week and some type
of muscle strengthening activity and stretching at least twice a week. However,
if you are unable to do this level of activity, you can gain substantial health
benefits by accumulating 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical
activity a day, at least five times a week. Some recommended aerobic activities
jumping rope, and roller skating.
for a healthy weight- Energy balance is important for maintaining a healthy
weight. The amount of energy or calories you get from food and drinks (energy
IN) is balanced with the energy your body uses for things like breathing,
digesting, and being physically active (energy OUT). You can reach and maintain
healthy weight if you:
Follow a healthy diet, and if you are overweight or obese, reduce your
daily intake by 500 calories for
Are physically active
Limit the time you spend being physically inactive.
Know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and the importance of
seeking medical help immediately- Women’s symptoms may include:
- Upper back or shoulder pain
- Jaw pain or pain spreading to the jaw
- Pressure or pain in the center of the chest
- Pain that spreads to the arm
- Unusual fatigue for several days
In a multi-center study of 515 women who had an acute myocardial infarction
(MI), the most frequently reported symptoms were unusual fatigue, sleep
disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion and
anxiety. The majority of women (78%) reported at least one symptom for more
than one month before their heart attack. Only 30% reported chest discomfort,
which was described as an aching, tightness, pressure, sharpness, burning,
fullness or tingling. [Reference: McSweeney J, et al. Women’s Early Warning
Symptoms of Acute Myocardial Infarction. Circulation. 2003;
for more information on The Heart Truth campaign, including The
Healthy Heart Handbook for Women and the Red Dress Pin.
Dated 31 January 2012