Get Healthy Carson City: Heart disease top cause of death in women

The heart truth is that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women of all ages, races, and shapes and sizes in the United States. But women sometimes experience heart disease differently than men. Healthy eating and physical activity go a long way to preventing heart disease and keeping it from getting worse if you already have it.

There is good news. You have the power to take action and lower your chance of developing heart disease and its risk factors. Start today. Make a commitment to find out your risk for heart disease and take steps toward a heart-healthy lifestyle.

To have a healthy heart, it is critical to know the risk factors for heart disease — that is, the behaviors or conditions that increase your chance of developing heart disease. Having just one risk factor increases your chance of developing heart disease, and your risk increases with each added risk factor.

Risks for heart disease:

• Smoking

• High blood pressure

• High blood cholesterol

• Diabetes and prediabetes

• Overweight and obesity

• Lack of physical activity

• Unhealthy diet

• Metabolic syndrome

• Family history of early heart disease

• “Older” age (55 or older for women)

• Preeclampsia during pregnancy

Find out your personal risk for heart disease by talk to your health care provider. Ask to have your blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and blood sugar checked. Family history of early heart disease is a risk factor that cannot be changed. If your father or brother had a heart attack before age 55, or if your mother or sister had one before age 65, you are more likely to develop heart disease yourself.

You may wonder: If I have just one risk factor for heart disease — say, I am overweight or

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University of Michigan doctor shares tips for managing cholesterol

DETROIT – Roughly 20% of Americans have high cholesterol, which left untreated, raises the risk of heart disease.

About a third of people with high cholesterol are completely unaware of the problem and the longer it goes untreated, the higher the risk of suffering a heart attack.

The effects of high cholesterol take years to cause damage. By far the biggest factors in having an increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol are diet and lifestyle, although genetics also play a role. It’s critical for everyone to know their cholesterol, but especially for people with a strong family history of high cholesterol or heart disease at an early age.

“So high, harmful types of cholesterol, like LDL cholesterol harm the body, because those cholesterol molecules go into the walls of our arteries,” said Dr. Eric Brandt. “And then over time, they build up plaques. Eventually, those plaques can block the flow in the artery, or they can lead to things like a heart attack.”

Brandt, the Director of Preventive Cardiology at the University of Michigan, said there are good ways to manage cholesterol.

“I like to say we treat with a combination of lifestyle and — when needed — medications,” Brandt said. “ Lifestyle is mostly driven by diet, eating a healthy whole food plant-based diet.”

Brant said some studies have shown that a whole food and plant-based diet can lower cholesterol by as much as 30% in a few weeks.

However, for some, high cholesterol can also run in families and can cause heart disease even earlier in life. That’s why it’s important to screen for it early and to manage what is in your control.

“I like to tell people, ‘We inherit two things, we inherit our genetics for our family, and our lifestyle,

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