Byline: Cecelia Sanders
February is American Heart Month, and time to think about our hearts.
As we get older, we have more chance of developing diseases such as heart failure, stroke, high blood pressure, heart attack, and congestive heart failure.
Although coronary heart disease is a growing problem, there has been a decline in death rates from cardiovascular disease in the United States.
According to the American Heart Association, "The decline may be due largely to the public's adopting a more healthful lifestyle.
"About half of all deaths from heart disease are sudden and unexpected, so there's little opportunity for treatment. For people at risk of sudden death, prevention is the key."
Some of the major risk factors we can change, or treat, or control, include smoking (including second-hand smoke), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, being overweight, and having diabetes.
The more risk factors you have, the greater chance you have of developing heart disease.
Smokers have an extremely high risk of not only having a heart attack but their risk of dying and dying suddenly also is increased. If you are trying to quit smoking, contact the AHA for ideas on how to stop.
As people age, their blood pressure also tends to rise. High blood pressure (140/90 mm Hb), can weaken the heart and also increase the risk of stroke, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure. However, this is one problem that can be treated with medication and diet. Have your blood pressure checked annually, and more often if it is high.
Exercise does not have to mean getting all sweaty and paying a lot to join a gym or health club. You can get exercise in short bursts of only 10 minutes at a time, several times a day.
Walking is an inexpensive, but effective exercise and a way to help control your cholesterol, reduce weight, and even help to lower blood pressure. You can walk alone, with a friend, indoors or outdoors (being sure the weather conditions will not interfere by being too cold, too hot, or too wet and/or icy). Studies have shown that regular exercise provides greater health benefits.
Excess weight puts strain on the heart, and also can be a cause of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and increased triglyceride levels, and can lead to the development of diabetes. …