Your heart depends on it.
Heart disease is tricky. There are multiple factors that come into play – some we can have control over (like cholesterol) and some that we just cannot (like your age). Of course, we are going to be focusing on those risk factors that we can control – but let’s review the genetic markers that we can’t change, even if we try real hard.
Worth Noting – Things we cannot control:
- age (you may tell people you are still 29…but your heart knows better)
- gender (heart disease is a number 1 killer in both genders)
- family health history/heredity (if it runs in your family, you have a predisposition to it)
- race (in the US, 50% of African Americans have heart disease, while 33% of Caucasians do. Harvard Health)
- previous stroke/heart attack (history CAN repeat itself)
So now let’s focus on the things we CAN change!
WAHOO, there is hope!
- weight (overweight/obesity = risk factor to heart disease)
- activity (decreased activity increases your chances for heart disease)
- smoking (STOP ALREADY!)
- blood pressure
The last 3 bullets are what we are going to focus on now, as well as touching a little bit on weight. Have you gotten your blood drawn recently? Has your doctor discussed your lipid panel with you lately, and you said “lipid whaaat?” I’m here to clear the air.
Does my super cute chart help? I hope so.
If you haven’t had blood work done in a while, there is no time like the present. Take advantage of heart health month and give your heart a check up. Knowledge is power!
If you have your numbers in front of you, it’s time to take action. Is your blood pressure too high? Try setting goals to decrease it by lowering your sodium intake (that post is coming!). If your cholesterol numbers aren’t matching the goals above, learn more about healthy fats and ways to decrease your saturated fat intakes (that post is coming too!). BMI isn’t used a whole lot, mostly because it only takes into consideration your height and weight, but it is a helpful tool to estimate your body fat. The higher your BMI is, the more predisposition you have for things like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure…you are picking up what I’m putting down, right?
What does your heart’s report card look like? Where do you have room for improvement? What are you doing right now to help better your heart?
Know your numbers. Hang them on the fridge – let these numbers be your motivator to work towards a healthier self, TODAY.