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Diet, exercise can prevent heart disease
A group of boot campers from ABC Fitness do calisthenics at an early morning workout held at Curt Andre Park. ABC Fitness holds all its boot camps outside because, exercise is something you can do anywhere, said trainer Jennifer Neal. - photo by 209 file photo

The month of February is not only known for the matters of the heart on Valentine’s Day, it is also dedicated to heart health among men and women.  With February being American Heart Month, raising awareness about heart disease and its dangers is essential to help prevention.

Cardiovascular disease is among the top three diseases in men and women worldwide.  Over 17 million people die of heart related conditions globally according to the American Heart Association.  The situation is alarming, but heart-disease is often preventable and controllable, if the proper precautions are taken before a crisis arises. 

 “Even though we have the technology and programs to treat heart disease, it is still the main cause of death in men and women worldwide,” said Dr. Reza Vafadouspe, a cardiologist at Turlock Heart and Vascular Institute.  “I’ve seen obesity being the major cause of heart disease in the United States. It is important to combine a healthy diet and exercise regimen so people can live a longer and happier life.”

Maintaining a healthy heart is not something that should be put off until old age. Proper nutrition plays an essential role in maintaining optimal heart health at all ages.   Here are a few tips to get your heart in the right track.

Healthy eating: Eating a balanced diet can help avoid heart disease and other heart related complications later on in life. It is recommended to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day in conjunction with foods low in saturated, trans fat and cholesterol.  Limit deep fried foods, red meats, egg yolks or packaged foods of any kind.  Eating foods with high fiber, including cereals, breads and pasta made from whole grain wheat, can help prevent high cholesterol.  Limit the amount of sodium and salt intake; it can help lower blood pressure.

Exercise: Regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.  According to the American Heart Association, it is recommended that most adults should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least three times a week.  Aerobic exercises are excellent for increasing your heart rate.

Weight control
:  Managing your weight and regular exercise are critical for keeping your heart in shape.

No Smoking: Smoking cigarettes can greatly increase chances of developing heart disease in the future.  If you currently smoke, now would be a good time to quit.

Regular Screenings: Regular screenings are important to prevent heart trouble.  It is important to check blood pressure and cholesterol levels frequently. 

“It is important to check the cholesterol levels of family members also,” said Vafadouspe.  “It has been shown that genetics can be a factor of heart disease.  That, in conjunction with an unhealthy lifestyle, can put family members at risk at developing heart complications later on in life.”

Alcohol: Lower your alcohol consumption as it can raise blood pressure.

Manage Stress
: Managing stress is known to reduce the chances of having a heart attack.  Exercise, meditation and physical activity have been shown to have lower blood pressure and lower rates of heart disease.

For more information on living a heart healthy lifestyle, contact your family physician.

209 staff reporter