Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Each year in the United States, more than 700,000 new cases of stroke are diagnosed and ?more than one million people suffer heart attacks. Avoid becoming part of those statistics ?by understanding how you can lower your risk and learning where you can find support.
Some heart attack or stroke risk factors—such as age, family history and gender—are beyond your control. However, these tips can help lower your risk.
Step One—Stop Smoking
Cigarette smokers are two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease and have an almost doubled risk for stroke.
“One year after you quit smoking, your risk for a heart attack is cut in half,” says Chris Kennedy, MD, cardiologist at Trident Cardiology Associates. “If you are a smoker, help is available. Trident Health System offers Freshstart Smoking Cessation Class, a four-week course to help you kick the habit.”
Participating in physical activity can help improve heart fitness. Spending at least 30 minutes a day walking, biking or engaging in another form of aerobic exercise can help you live a healthier life. Work out with a buddy or check out classes in our calendar (see page 11 or visit our Web site) to help you enhance your wellness in a fun way. Be sure to talk with your physician before starting any new exercise regimen.
Step Three—Watch Your Diet
Eating right can help lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Choose vegetables and fruits high in vitamins, minerals and fiber; unrefined whole-grain foods; and low-mercury fish (at least twice a week) to help your body receive the nutrients it needs to be healthy.
“Changing your eating habits can be difficult,” says Dr. Kennedy. “If you need help, Trident Health System offers classes and other forms of support to help you and your loved ones enjoy a healthier lifestyle.”
•Step Four—Control Blood Pressure
To lower high blood pressure, follow these tips:
• Avoid salty foods.
• Check your blood pressure regularly.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Perform physical activity frequently.
• Take medication as prescribed.
Step Five—Watch Your Cholesterol
Ask your physician to check your blood cholesterol level. Reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL)—bad cholesterol—and raising levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)—good cholesterol—can significantly reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. You can help decrease your blood cholesterol level by consuming foods low in saturated fat and trans fat.
Step Six—Monitor Your Blood Sugar
High blood glucose levels, which are commonly associated with diabetes, are linked to stroke. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, partner with your physician to manage and control your risk factors through lifestyle changes and other means your physician determines are right for you.
Step Seven—Limit Alcohol Use
The American Heart Association recommends no more than one to two drinks per day for men and one drink each day for women. One “drink” is considered either a 12-ounce beer or 4-ounce glass of wine. Consuming more than that amount increases your risk of developing many health problems.
Step Eight—Have an Emergency Plan
If you or someone near you experiences symptoms that may indicate a heart attack or stroke, call 911 immediately to summon help.
To help protect yourself in an emergency, carry with you information about your medications as well as your physicians’ names and contact numbers.
You may not be able to control all risk factors of heart attack and stroke, but learning more is the first step to staying safe.
For a physician referral, call Trident HealthFinders at (843) 797-FIND (3463) or 1-888-797-FIND.
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