Taking Your Cardiovascular Health Seriously


The Underlining Facts:

It’s important for you to understand the depth of cardiovascular disease confronting the African American community. Here is a summary of the ailments that directly affect African Americans:
  • Diabetes mellitus — Diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Even when glucose (blood sugar) levels are under control, diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, but the risks are even greater if blood sugar is not well controlled. About three-quarters of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease. If you have diabetes, it's extremely important to work with your healthcare provider to manage it and control any other risk factors you can.

  • Obesity and overweight — People who have excess body fat — especially if a lot of it is at the waist — are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. Excess weight increases the heart's work. It also raises blood pressure and blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and lowers HDL ("good") cholesterol levels. It can also make diabetes more likely to develop. Many obese and overweight people may have difficulty losing weight. But by losing even as few as 10 pounds, you can lower your heart disease risk.

  • High blood pressure — High blood pressure increases the heart's workload, causing the heart to thicken and become stiffer. It also increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and congestive heart failure. When high blood pressure exists with obesity, smoking, high blood cholesterol levels or diabetes, the risk of heart attack or stroke increases several times. The American Heart Association estimates that 28% of African American adults and more than 66% of African Americans over the age of 60 have high blood pressure.

  • High blood cholesterol — As blood cholesterol rises, so does risk of coronary heart disease. When other risk factors (such as high blood pressure and tobacco smoke) are present, this risk increases even more. A person's cholesterol level is also affected by age, sex, heredity and diet.

  • Tobacco smoke — Smokers' risk of developing coronary heart disease is 2–4 times that of nonsmokers. Cigarette smoking is a powerful independent risk factor for sudden cardiac death in patients with coronary heart disease; smokers have about twice the risk of nonsmokers. Cigarette smoking also acts with other risk factors to greatly increase the risk for coronary heart disease. People who smoke cigars or pipes seem to have a higher risk of death from coronary heart disease (and possibly stroke) but their risk isn't as great as cigarette smokers'. Exposure to other people's smoke increases the risk of heart disease even for nonsmokers.

  • Physical inactivity — An inactive lifestyle is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity helps prevent heart and blood vessel disease. The more vigorous the activity, the greater your benefits. However, even moderate-intensity activities help if done regularly and long term. Physical activity can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, as well as help lower blood pressure in some people.

If you look closely at all six health issues you will see that the common denominator is your cardiovascular system.

Steps to Decrease Your Risk:

Given the above information there are several important steps to decreasing your risk for cardiovascular disease that you can start doing today.

Step 1 – Monitor your blood pressure.
High blood pressure damages your endothelial cells. If you do not know what your blood pressure is then you need to go to your doctor’s office, local pharmacy or health clinic and get your blood pressure taken. If you have high blood pressure, then you need to take steps to bring it back into a normal range. This is your first and most important step.

Step 2 – Monitor your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. High sugar and cholesterol levels damage your endothelial cells. Diet is extremely important for both of these areas. One simple but highly effective step to stabilize your blood sugar levels and help your body naturally reduce its cholesterol levels is to increase your fiber intake. Including dry beans or legumes into your diet is a quick and delicious way to increase your fiber intake. In fact studies have shown that consuming dry beans four times or more per week, compared with less than once a week, lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 22 percent.

Step 3 – Stop smoking! Smoking damages your endothelial cells. This is a serious habit that is extremely hard to break. Part of the process is having a motivation greater than the habit.

Step 4 – Exercise! Regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity helps prevent heart and blood vessel disease. It should also be noted that the more vigorous the activity, the greater the benefits. Exercising can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, as well as help lower blood pressure in some people.

The key for reducing your health risk for these cardiovascular diseases is to make sure your cardiovascular system is as healthy as possible.

This health informative is brought to you by Livewell Distribution, a company focused on health and wellness. For more information email them at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

AMEZNews

Contributing sources for this article include: www.americanheart.org
 

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