Protect your heart; things you must do

Stock image, St. George News

FEATURE — Every year, 1 in 4 people die of heart disease. Although advancements in cardiovascular disease and prevention have led to a reduction of cardiovascular deaths in the last 30 years, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in Utah and the U.S.

“The good news is that more than half of the reduction in heart attacks, stroke and disability is influenced by simple lifestyle changes,” Cardiologist Jamison Jones, with Revere Health Heart of Dixie, said.

Know your risk

Managing risk factors is the key to preventing heart disease. The biggest risk factors of cardiovascular disease include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, inactivity and a poor diet.

Getting regular cardiovascular screenings — even as early as age 20, according to the American Heart Association — can help detect common risk factors in their early stages.

Adopt the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is way of eating rather than a formal diet plan, Jones said. It emphasizes eating plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

  • Replace butter with healthy fats like olive oil.
  • Use herbs and spices, not salt, to flavor food.
  • Limit red meat to no more than a few times a week.
  • Eat fish and poultry at least twice a week.

“The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet extend far beyond heart health,” Jones said. “This diet affects all aspects of wellness.”

One study, Predimed, examined 7,447 people at high risk for heart attack or stroke. After five years of following the Mediterranean diet, participants showed a 30 percent reduction in heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths.

Exercise regularly

“Any dedicated time and activity that leads to sustained effort and elevation in heart rate, beyond daily chores, will provide amazing health benefits,” Jones explains. In addition to the Mediterranean diet and monitoring your risk factors, he recommends a daily exercise program of at least 20-30 minutes, five days a week. Brisk walks, jogging, hiking, swimming, weight lifting and biking—or stationary biking or walking on a treadmill—are great activities to reduce your risk of heart disease. Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.

Recognize signs of poor vascular health

Approximately 47 percent of cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital. This statistic suggests many people with heart disease don’t know or don’t act on the early signs of poor vascular health, including:

  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Unusual symptoms or shortness of breath with exertion.
  • Leg pain or aching.
  • Swelling in the ankles.
  • Stroke-like symptoms.

If you experience any of these symptoms, Jones advises visiting your primary care physician or cardiovascular specialist, as these symptoms may be a warning sign of poor vascular health.

Submitted by Revere Health Heart of Dixie Cardiology.

•  S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T  •


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1 Comment

  • comments February 25, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    well, butter can actually be very healthy. best to cut out refined seed oils, hydrogenated oils, and all soy oils and soy product in general.

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