February is American Heart Health Month. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer for all Americans. The sad thing is that the risks are higher for African Americans. The most common conditions that lead to heart disease are diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. These are all avoidable conditions with proper diet and exercise.
What is Heart disease?
Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease. It is a disorder of the blood vessels of the heart that can lead to a heart attack. A heart attack happens when an artery becomes blocked, preventing oxygen and nutrients from getting to the heart. I recently found out that someone in one of my Facebook groups lost her 13 year old daughter due to a heart attack. The young lady was obese and lived a sedentary lifestyle. This is so sad but becoming way to common because physical education has been taken out of schools and children are glued to their technology, computer, smartphones, game systems instead of getting outside and exercising.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease – these habits increase the chances of developing a disease or having it worsen
- Smoking- There is no safe way to smoke. Once you quit after 1 year, your heart disease risk will drop by more than half. According to the Mayo clinic, smoking is a greater risk factor for women than men.
- High Blood Pressure- 140/90 or higher is considered high. But even prehypertension 120-139 over 80-89 raises your risk of heart disease.
- High Blood Cholesterol – Cholesterol travels in the blood in packages called lipoproteins.
LDL is Low Density Lipoprotein (BAD CHOLESTEROL) 160 or above is high less than 100 is OPTIMAL
HDL is High Density Lipoprotein (GOOD CHOLESTEROL) less than 40, increases your risk for heart disease, 60 or higher is protective
- Overweight/Obesity – We are affected more by obesity than any of our counterparts. Among non-Hispanics blacks ages 20 and older, 63% men and 77% women are overweight/obese
- Physical Inactivity
- Diabetes – Type 2 is the kind most commonly found in adults who are overweight and most recently in kids as well.
- MENOPAUSAL WOMEN
Estrogen plus progestin therapy INCREASES the chances of developing HEART DISEASE.
Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack
You may be experiencing cardiovascular problems if you notice that ordinary physical activity causes you to experience the following symptoms:
- Undue fatigue
- Palpitations – the sensation that your heart is skipping a beat or beating too rapidly
- Dyspnea – difficult or labored breathing
- Chest pain – chest pain or discomfort from increased activity
According to the American Heart Association, most women mistake the signs of a heart attack for flu-like symptoms, acid reflux or aging.
- Neck, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Unusual fatigue
Blood Pressure and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Eating Plan: You can help lower your blood pressure by eating fruits, vegetable, whole-grain foods and low fat dairy products. Also eat less in saturated and total fat and cholesterol, and limit red meat, sweets, and sugar-containing beverages.
High Blood Cholesterol and the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) Program:
On this eating plan you should have less than 7 % of your day’s calories from saturated fat, less than 200mg of dietary cholesterol per day, and just enough calories to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
Let’s make 2015 the year that we turn these numbers around. We don’t want any more kids to die and we know that we can all live very long healthy lives by making some simple changes. Help your elders learn to cook healthier and help them take better care of their health. Teach your children the right way to eat and exercise. Healthy food can taste good, believe me I know. If you do not have your health, you have NOTHING.
BMWK, How are your eating habits?