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The Cardiologist's Wife - Tips to Live a Heart-Healthy Life
Feb 07, 2018

In the February issue of Occasions magazine, I wrote about heart disease, outlining it’s causes and symptoms, touching briefly on prevention. February is American Heart Month and I’d like to continue the discussion on heart disease - specifically what you can do to protect your heart. Given the dismal statistics I quoted in Occasions, the message isn’t being taken seriously here in Arkansas. Here are some tips to stay healthy, no matter how old you are.

Teens and Twenty-somethings

You are young, you feel great, nothing bad will ever happen, right? Maybe, maybe not. Right now your bad habits could be laying down deposits of plaque in your arteries. When the plaque gets thick enough, sometime in your 40’s or 50’s, boom! You have a heart attack. Who wants to be middle aged in their 20’s?

Don’t even think of smoking. Cigarettes, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are all bad for you. If they don’t cause heart disease, the likelihood of developing cancer is pretty high and no one ever looks forward to chemo.

Exercise! Now is the time to get in shape so find something fun to do and keep it up. Not only will you be more physically attractive but exercise is about the single most important factor in improving your health. The phrase “garbage in, garbage out” may refer to computers, but it could not be more true when considering the junk food many people exist on. If vegetables never pass your lips, you are in trouble. A steady diet of soda, chips, fast food and sweets will pay you back in excess weight and a vast array of fun diseases like diabetes, joint issues, heart disease and cancer.

Thirties

By now you are probably settled into work and family routines but it’s not too late to check your health routines and make needed changes. It is possible to reverse at least some of the damage done by smoking, a sedentary life and poor eating habits. Your example sets the tone for your children so help them live the healthiest life they can by focusing on ways to be healthy.

If you are a smoker, get serious about stopping if you want to see your kids grow up and be the one your spouse grows old with. And shame on you if you smoke around children. It’s one thing to poison yourself but another to poison those who are helpless to avoid you. Set a quit date and stick to it. Get help from your spouse, friends and your doctor.

If you have poor eating habits, then your family does as well. Get the whole family back on track by embracing a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables. While you are at it, get the whole family moving and having fun.

Learn all you can about your family health history. Having parents or grandparents with certain diseases like diabetes and heart disease increases your risk. If you know what the possibilities are, you can take steps to prevent the disease from occurring.

Find ways to reduce your stress. Long term stress can contribute to high blood pressure, anxiety, sleep problems, headaches and much more.

I will continue this series next week, talking about the 40’s, 50’s and beyond.

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