At the American College of Cardiology Scientific Session in March of 2012, information was presented from the University of Michigan Systems showing that children understand the effect of healthy behaviors on overall health.
Project Health Schools, which is a community-University of Michigan System project, measured risk factors for heart disease in middle school children. Measured risk factors included lipid profiles and physical activity before and after receiving education on healthy behaviors. They found that after receiving education the middle school students showed positive behaviors towards improving lipid profiles, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. This indicates middle school children are not too young to understand the impact of healthy behaviors and they have the ability to implement changes.
This implementation of healthy behaviors at an early age is critical to lifelong health and reduced risk for heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 17% of children and teens are overweight or obese. This is triple the rate one generation ago and puts children at increased risk for health complications just as excess weight impacts adults.
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Stress is part of life. There’s no way you can avoid stress entirely. However, if you constantly live with high stress levels it can lead to physical problems. These physical problems may include high blood pressure, angina (i.e. chest pains), arrhythmia (i.e. irregular heart rate) and heart disease.
How Does Stress Increase Heart Disease Risk?
Stress can increase heart disease risk in different ways. First, stress affects you emotionally. This could lead you to make unhealthy food and lifestyle choices, such as overeating, not exercising, and smoking. Stress also causes elevated levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which may have a negative impact long term. Research is also finding that stress impacts the way blood clots.
What Can You Do to Reduce Stress?
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Do you take statin medication? If so, when did your doctor recommend you being statins? Was it when your lab results found your LDL cholesterol levels to be elevated?
LDL cholesterol has been the measure used to determine when lipid lowering therapy is needed…and statins are often the therapy started.
Research is beginning to question if LDL is the best measure for knowing if cholesterol treatment is warranted to reduce heart disease risk.
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Annually, the American Heart Association (AHA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and National Institutes of Health (NIH) publish the latest statistics for heart disease and stroke. The most recent updates found deaths due to cardiovascular disease actually decreased by 33% over the past 10 years and deaths due to stroke were reduced 37%.
This goes to show that a significant amount of progress has been made to improve outcomes for those who suffer heart attacks and strokes. Great news!
What’s not so good news are the increasing risk factors of US adults making them more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. Did you know 68% of US adults are overweight or obese? Did you know 32% of children are overweight and 17% of children obese? And according to the AHA, CDC, and NIH, 33% of US adults do no engage in any aerobic leisure time physical activity. If you look around, it’s not so hard to believe that a majority of US adults are overweight and sedentary. Where do you fall?
Continue reading ‘What Bad Habits Are Increasing Your Heart Disease Risk?’ »
There are some very interesting questions coming out regarding the benefits of HDL cholesterol.
High HDL cholesterol has always been encouraged because people with higher HDL cholesterol levels have a reduced risk for heart disease. If you have low HDL cholesterol levels it’s likely that your doctor recommended you to boost levels through diet and exercise or by taking niacin supplements. This is due to the long held belief that HDL cholesterol reduces heart disease risk by “picking up” artery clogging cholesterol from circulation.
A new study utilizing modern genetic testing is challenging this theory, finding that there may not be a direct cause-and-effect relationship between reduced heart disease risk and high HDL cholesterol levels. Study findings indicate the high HDL levels themselves may not be protective on their own. These high HDL levels may be an indicator of something else reducing heart disease risk.
Continue reading ‘Why is HDL Cholesterol Considered to be ‘Good’?’ »
You can use nutrients now to prevent heart disease later. Here are 4 nutrients to ensure are a regular part of your daily diet.
Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) is a powerful antioxidant and plays a key role in cellular energy production. Within the cellular mitochondria, coenzyme Q10 is responsible for carrying the electrons back and forth between enzymes in the production of ATP (energy).
Coenzyme Q10 also removes many free radicals from circulation. It’s these free radicals that lead to oxidation of LDL and the subsequent chain of events that result in heart disease.
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Generally when you think about where to get antioxidants in your diet, it’s likely you picture fruit and vegetables. For example, berries are rich in antioxidants as well as dark green leafy vegetables. Red wine and dark chocolate may even come to mind as antioxidant sources.
Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by free radicals leading to oxidative stress. It’s believed a diet rich in antioxidants may provide protective benefits to fight against chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
Some examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and resveratrol.
Often overlooked antioxidant sources include several herbs and spices.
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Waist circumference has a direct relationship to high blood pressure and lipid (cholesterol) levels.
A study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found the greater the Waist-to-Height Ratio the worse the lipid profile and hypertension in adolescents.
This particular study evaluated 4,104 ninth-grade students between the ages of 14 and 15 years-old during the 2009 – 2012 school year. Body mass index was used to classify waist measurements.
The greater the waist-to-height ratio, the greater the risk for poor lipid profiles and high blood pressure compared to those with normal body mass indexes and waist-to-height ratios.
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You don’t have to begin a drastic diet in order to achieve your heart health goals. Big results can be achieved by improving your daily habits one step at a time.
Here are 5 steps you can implement now for a healthy heart:
Step 1 – Add fruits and vegetables to your daily diet
That’s right, I’m not telling you to eliminate a food, but to add foods. Fruits and vegetables are essential. Add a fruit and/or vegetable to every meal or snack to boost your intake of this necessary food group. It’s estimated that our intake of vegetables is usually only 59% of what it should be and fruit only 42%.
Step 2 – Switch processed grains for whole grains
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Is the deck stacked against you when it comes to genetics and heart disease? If so, I’m right there with you. However, this isn’t a pass to just say “oh well, nothing you can do about it” and proceed to live an unhealthy lifestyle.
Heart disease and heart attacks are for the most part preventable. Deaths due to coronary heart disease have significantly decreased since 1980.
Here are 5 steps you can take right now to beat the odds:
- Know your numbers
Go to the free health screenings to have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked. Discuss with your doctor to determine how often more in depth lab work should be completed. Ignorance is not going to help you.
For cholesterol, the American Heart Association provides the following recommendations:
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