February- Heart Disease Prevention
February is Heart Month so this is a time to reflect on ways to help prevent development of heart disease. Although there are many types of heart disease, this article will mainly apply to the most common forms of heart disease: coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.
There are some recommendations that apply to all ages. Good nutritional habits are very important. We should drive for a diet low in saturated fats, trans-fats and sodium. This would include eating lots of vegetables, fruits, fibers, nuts, seeds, legumes and fish (such as salmon or tuna; sorry, the Friday night deep fried fish does not count). Limiting red meat and sugary drinks is an important feature of a healthy diet. Following the “Mediterranean Diet” would fulfill these recommendations, and there are many resources available concerning this diet. I urge everyone to adopt this healthy eating plan.
Everyone should strive to be at a normal weight. Body Mass Index (BMI) can be calculated from height and weight; this is calculated when you are measured at the clinic, and you can also find calculators on many sites on-line. Desired BMI is 18.5 to 25. Overweight is from 25 to 30, and obesity is defined as a BMI >30. Being above desired BMI does increase the risk for heart disease (and diabetes and other problems)
Physical exercise is also very important. The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) or at least 75 minutes of high intensity exercise (such as jogging or aerobics) or preferably a combination of both. In addition, doing some exercise to strengthen all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) should be done at least twice weekly.