Heart disease is the #1 killer. The good news is there are many ways you can
make a difference now to avoid putting yourself at risk.
Factors associated with heart disease include:
Smoking: Smoking is the biggest risk factor for and the leading preventable
cause of heart disease.
Exercise: Studies have shown that inactive people are twice as likely to
develop heart disease as those who are more active.
High cholesterol: High cholesterol is not a disease in and of itself, but it
is a factor associated with increased risk for heart disease that can be
easily affected by daily eating habits and exercise.
Excess weight: The more overweight you are, the higher your risk for heart
disease. Excess weight also contributes to other risk factors, including high
blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and high blood sugar.
'Good' and 'Bad' Cholesterol: What's the Difference?
Cholesterol is one of several lipids (blood fats) that combines with proteins
to form packages called lipoproteins that transport fat into the bloodstream.
There are two types of cholesterol:
'Good' cholesterol, or HDLs (high-density lipoproteins): Removes cholesterol
from the blood and therefore prevents it from building up in the body.
'Bad' cholesterol, or LDLs (low-density lipoproteins): Can clog arteries by
leaving fat deposits.
The human body creates all the cholesterol it needs; however, we take in
additional cholesterol from meat, poultry, fish, milk, milk products and egg
yolks - which means we all ingest more cholesterol than we need. This increase
in dietary cholesterol raises blood cholesterol levels in many people,
increasing their risk for heart disease. On the other hand, soluble fibers
found in beans, oats, fruits and vegetables, and regular exercise are thought
to increase the body's level of 'good' cholesterol.
When you go in for your annual physical exam, ask your health care provider
about checking your overall cholesterol level, as well as HDL and LDL levels,
especially if someone in your family has high cholesterol. For all adults, a
desirable total blood cholesterol level is less than 200 mg. Keep in mind that
a total blood cholesterol level of 200 to 239 mg is considered 'borderline
Learn to Reduce Stress!
We all have too much stress in our lives. Don't add to it by letting little things get to you. Learn to:
• Focus on one task at a time - worrying about work yet to be completed only distracts you from carrying out the job at hand.
• Reward yourself for your accomplishments - give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
• Maintain perspective - don't stress over relatively insignificant events.