Healthy Heart-February was National Heart Month; so in honor of that, here are some things you should know.

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Healthy Heart

February was National Heart Month; so in honor of that, here are some things you should know.

The Issue
Cardiovascular disease is our nation’s No. 1 killer. Physical inactivity significantly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Seventy percent of Americans don’t get enough exercise, blaming lack of time and lack of motivation. Ignoring fitness and health increases chances for disease. Are you at risk?
What are the major risk factors that can’t be changed?
♣ Increasing age — Over 83 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older.
♣ Male sex (gender) — Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women do, and they have attacks earlier in life. Even after menopause, when women’s death rate from heart disease increases, it’s not as great as men’s. All though heart disease is on the rise for woman.
♣ Heredity (including Race) — Children of parents with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves. African Americans have more severe high blood pressure than Caucasians and a higher risk of heart disease. Heart disease risk is also higher among Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian Americans. This is partly due to higher rates of obesity and diabetes.

What are the major risk factors you can modify, treat or control by changing your lifestyle or taking medicine?
• Tobacco smoke — Smokers’ risk of developing coronary heart disease is 2–4 times that of nonsmokers.
• High blood cholesterol — As blood cholesterol rises, so does risk of coronary heart disease.
• High blood pressure — High blood pressure increases the heart’s workload, causing the heart to thicken and become stiffer. It also increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and congestive heart failure
• Physical inactivity — An inactive lifestyle is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Even moderate-intensity activities help if done regularly and long term. Physical activity can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, as well as help lower blood pressure in some people.
• Obesity and overweight — People who have excess body fat — especially if a lot of it is at the waist — are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. Excess weight increases the heart’s work. It also raises blood pressure and blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Losing even as few as 10 pounds, you can lower your heart disease risk.
• Diabetes mellitus — Diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Even when glucose (blood sugar) levels are under control, diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
• Stress- Individual response to stress may be a contributing factor. Scientists have noted a relationship between coronary heart disease risk and stress in a person’s life.
• Alcohol – Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, cause heart failure and lead to stroke. It can contribute to high triglycerides, cancer and other diseases, and produce irregular heartbeats.

When these conditions are combined the risk of heart attack or stroke increases several times.
The higher number of conditions the higher the risk.

Exercise and Fitness
Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and most Americans are not physically active enough to gain any health benefits. Swimming, cycling, jogging, skiing, aerobic dancing, walking or many other activities can help your heart. Whether it’s included in a structured exercise program or part of your daily routine, all physical activity adds up to a healthier heart. According to the latest joint American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine guidelines on physical activity, all healthy adults ages 18-65 should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five days of the week.

The Start! Solution
Right now the American Heart Association is kicking off its Start campaign. Start! is the American Heart Association’s groundbreaking national campaign that calls on all Americans and their employers to create a culture of physical activity and health to live longer, heart-healthy lives through walking.
Start! is…
• A comprehensive movement that will capture the hearts, minds and bodies of Americans
• A call to action that evokes active, year-round participation in walking and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke by supporting the American Heart Association
• A long-term commitment to fight the major causes of heart disease and stroke in American adults through a comprehensive walking and nutrition program

For more information on the Start program go to: and click on Start

Can’t get started? Hire a trainer or coach: Scott Coldwell- Phoenix Massage & Personal Training, email:, 203-778-3995

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