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You and Your Sweet Heart 

February is Heart Health Month

By Jessica Todey, LVN, Doctors' Weight Management Program

Did you know that the leading cause of death in men and women in America is Heart disease? Although many diseases fall under the umbrella “heart disease,” you may be most familiar with high blood pressure (hypertension) and High Cholesterol. Cholesterol is actually a good thing! Our body needs cholesterol to function but having too much “bad cholesterol” (LDL) creates plaque inside the arteries. There are some blood vessels that, when narrowed or blocked by the plaque, increases the risk of other conditions like hypertension.

Hypertension or “the silent killer” as some may call it often goes undiagnosed. High blood pressure occurs when the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the vessels. Vessels are what carry nutrient rich cells to other areas of your body; if these are compromised or blocked, our body starts to suffer. Relentless pounding of blood against the walls of arteries cause them to become weak and narrow which are building blocks for heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. 

Now, we all know that there are medications that we can take daily to manage these conditions but those may have negative side effects. Some things that you can do regularly to avoid medication or decrease the amount you’re currently taking are: reduce stress, cut bad habits like smoking or drinking, exercise, get in 7-8 hours sleep per night, lose weight, and eat healthy.

Exercise! As many of us have discovered, we can’t just work off the effects of an unhealthy (or even moderately unhealthy) diet through physical activity. Exercise, being one piece to the puzzle, can help control appetite, boost mood, and improve sleep. Studies on exercise, by the Harvard Medical School have shown long term improvements on health by reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, depression, and many cancers. Challenge yourself to boost your physical activity! For example, 30 minutes of brisk walking a day is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. We recommend breaking them up into ten minute bouts. Walking reduces cortisol levels (stress hormone), which in turn, reduces belly fat. 

The Doctors' Weight Management Program includes a low calorie, low fat, low sodium, strict diet along with behavior change classes (because, let's face it, this is often times the hardest part... to change those longstanding habits that lead to being overweight). It may include medical supervision depending on the diet you choose. 

NOW is the time to really focus on what you consume daily.  As researched by the American Heart Association, losing just 10 pounds can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and improve high blood pressure.  Limiting saturated trans fats, sodium, red meat, and sweets is a start to improving your heart health.

Join us for an Orientation session to learn about the program options designed to help you make lasting  changes to take and keep off weight.

Sources
https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/cholesterol
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11918-cholesterol-high-cholesterol-diseases
https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure
https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/managing-weight-to-control-high-blood-pressure