Improve your heart health

Living a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of heart disease.

The American Heart Association states that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and woman in the United States. People that are prediabetic or diabetic are at greater risk for heart disease, but the good news is that living a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Eating the recommended portions and nutrients outlined in My Plate as well as exercising 150 minutes per week and getting enough sleep can help lower your risk of heart disease. Some other lifestyle changes you can make that the National Heart Lung and Blood Organization has identified as risk factors for heart disease are:

  • Smoking
  • High blood Cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Alcohol

Cholesterol is a term we hear often, but many of us do not know what it is. It is a soft, waxy substance that your body makes. Cholesterol is carried through the body by lipoproteins. The High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) removes cholesterol from the body, therefore preventing build up in the arteries. The Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is what we consider the “bad cholesterol”. The lipoprotein carries harmful cholesterol in the blood. This can lead to blocking the arteries.

The main reason you want to control your cholesterol is because you do not want the waxy substance to build up in the arteries to your heart. Exercise and eating healthy is a big step towards preventing this from happening.

Blood pressure is the force of the blood flow in your blood vessels. Having high blood pressure may lead to heart disease and kidney failure. The greater the blood pressure the higher the risk.  High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” because generally there are no symptoms to warn us when something is wrong.

The good news is we can do things to prevent or manage heart disease. The following is called the “Simple 7” published by the American Heart Association:

  • Get Active
  • Control Cholesterol
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Don’t smoke
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Work with your health care provider to manage blood pressure
  • Work with your health care provider to keep blood glucose at a healthy level

For more tips on health and nutrition visit Michigan State University Extension.

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