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Hospital offers tips to manage heart disease risk


Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Are you young at heart? Or have lifestyle choices or family history made your heart old beyond your years? Taking charge of your heart health starts with understanding your risk factors. That’s why Eastern New Mexico Medical Center is drawing attention to the link between heart disease and weight, eating habits, physical activity, smoking and certain health conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American man has a heart that is 7.8 years “older” than his chronological age. For women, the comparable “heart age” is 5.4 years higher than her calendar age. Lack of exercise, a poor diet and other unhealthy habits can take their toll over the years.

“As we approach a certain age, many of us start to consider heart disease and what we can do to prevent it,” said Fundador Adajar, M.D, a cardiologist with ENMMC. “The good news is that even people in their 50s and 60s can regain the heart health of someone decades younger. Several clinical studies indicate that taking good care of yourself can help reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. More than 600,000 people die of heart disease every year. That’s 1 in every 4 deaths across the country.

“It’s never too late to make better health choices,” Adajar said. “All you need is a goal and a plan, and the desire to live better.” Here are some simple steps to take:

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• Check your family history. Ask your family if anyone — parents, grandparents, siblings — has had heart problems or any of the common risk factors for cardiovascular heart disease, such as diabetes. If the answer is “yes,” your chances for developing heart disease go up. Talk with your doctor about what you can do to decrease your risk of developing heart disease.

• Don’t smoke. If you smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products, it’s time to quit. Ask your doctor about programs and medications that may help you kick the habit.

• Watch what you eat. Choose foods low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars. Focus on including foods that are nutrient-dense, including colorful vegetables and fruits; fiber-rich whole grains; lean meats, skinless chicken and fish rich in omega-3s; and fat-free or low-fat dairy. These foods can give your heart the nutrients it needs as well as improve your cholesterol and blood pressure.

• Be physically active. If exercise is new to you or you have a chronic condition, ask your doctor for suggestions on the types of exercises you can explore. Your goal should be to get 30-60 minutes of exercise on most or all days of the week. Additionally, on two or more days a week include muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups.

• Know your numbers. Knowing the numbers that impact your heart is an important step toward healthy living. Talk to your doctor to see how your current numbers measure up to these goals: Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL; HDL (good) cholesterol 50 mg/dL or higher; LDL (bad) cholesterol less than 100 mg/dL; Triglycerides less than 150 mg/dL; Blood pressure less than 120/80 mm Hg; Body mass index (BMI) less than 25 kg/m2.

• Get regular checkups. In addition to blood pressure checkups and other heart-health screenings, you should have your blood sugar level tested by the time you’re 45. This first test serves as a baseline for future tests, which you should have every three years.

“Though you can’t rewind your chronological age, there are several things you can do to reduce your heart age,” Dr. Eric Cohen, Interventional Cardiologist said. “Preventing heart disease — and all cardiovascular diseases for that matter — means making smart choices now that will pay off for the rest of your life.”

Eastern New Mexico Medical Center offers a free heart health assessment at ENMMC.com. In as few as five minutes, the online tool identifies personal risk factors for heart disease, offers tips to take control of your heart health, and provides a report to share with your physician. Visit www.yourheartsage.com/eastern-new-mexico/ to take the free heart health assessment.

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