Be Good to your Heart

Heart dis­ease is cur­rently the lead­ing cause of death in Amer­ica for both men and women. That’s right. Not can­cer. Not auto­mo­bile col­li­sions. Not crazy, gun-toting red­necks. Heart dis­ease. Stud­ies say it kills in the neigh­bor­hood of 600,000 peo­ple a year. And the truly sad thing is that it’s pre­ventable to a cer­tain degree.

Heart dis­ease afflicts both men and women, but women expe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent symp­toms for heart attacks than men. While chest pres­sure is the most com­mon symp­tom for both gen­ders, women can expe­ri­ence short­ness of breath, jaw pain, headache, nau­sea, and fatigue. Those symp­toms are much less com­mon for men, who usu­ally expe­ri­ence a crush­ing pain in their chest.

Male or female, it appears the way to pre­vent heart dis­ease is pretty much the same regard­less of gen­der. It boils down to some sim­ple lifestyle steps. The trick is hav­ing the dis­ci­pline to fol­low through.

  1. Abstain from smok­ing or using tobacco. Tobacco con­tains chem­i­cals that can really mess up your arter­ies. Plus nico­tine nar­rows your arter­ies, mak­ing your heart work harder to pump blood.
  2. Exer­cise. It’s rec­om­mended that you get at least 30 min­utes of exer­cise four or five days a week. It doesn’t have to be hard­core work­ing out. House chores, yard work, and walk­ing count toward your exer­cise total, too.
  3. Eat heart healthy. Diet con­tributes greatly to the health of your heart, so eat with that in mind. Get plenty of fruits, veg­eta­bles, and whole grains. Avoid fat, salt, and cholesterol.
  4. Watch your weight. The more mass you haul around, the harder your heart has to work. Give it a break by main­tain­ing a healthy body weight. Fig­ure your Body Mass Index and if it’s over 25, it’s time to do some­thing about it.
  5. Don’t be afraid of the Doc. Be sure to get reg­u­lar health screen­ings. Check ups regard­ing blood pres­sure, cho­les­terol, and dia­betes are par­tic­u­larly important.

Do those things and you’ll be nice to your heart. And if you’re nice to your heart, it’ll be nice to you.


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