13 September 11 Life's Simple 7

Most of us will die from heart disease before anything else has chance to kill us. The American Heart Association has a hit list for lowering your chances of getting a heart attack or stroke:

1. Get active.
2. Eat better.
3. Lose weight.
4. Stop smoking.
5. Control cholesterol.
6. Manage blood pressure.
7. Reduce blood sugar.

Nice and simple list, right? But do you even know where you are at right now for those seven factors? Most people do not. The time is now to change that if you want to live a long and vigorous life.

Get Active

150 minutes a week of moderate exercise - that is the amount related to reducing risk in adults. This is equivalent to 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week.

Eat Better

Eat MORE colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, fish, and plant-based fats. Eat less salt (sodium), red meat and added sugars.

Lose Weight

If you are overweight, then lose weight. Check your weight status by using a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator. The goal is to lower your weight so that your BMI is between18.5 – 24.9. If this weight goal seems too difficult to attain, then aim to lose 10% of your starting body weight. For more help on setting a healthy target weight, check out my post at MyNetDiary's blog.

Stop Smoking

If you need to prioritize these seven behaviors, then put this one at the top of your list. We all know that smoking cigarettes is harmful to our health and to the health of others around us. Don't put it off anymore, just quit now.

Control Cholesterol

How long has it been since you have had your blood lipoproteins measured? The lipoprotein panel measures total blood cholesterol as well as the important blood fat fractions that affect your risk of getting a heart attack or stroke: HDL (High density lipoprotein), LDL (low density lipoprotein), and triglycerides. If you don't know your numbers, then it is time to ask your doctor to get tested. Basic goals:

Total Cholesterol: < 200 mg/dL
LDL: < 100 mg/dL (<70 mg/dL with heart disease)
HDL: > 40 mg/dL men, > 50 mg/dL women
Triglycerides: < 150 mg/dL

Manage Blood Pressure

Aim for less than 120/80. Getting active, losing weight, following a lower sodium diet and quitting smoking will help you control your blood pressure. So will medication – take as directed or talk with your doctor if you need a change. Discontinuing blood pressure medication without informing your doctor first is not safe.

Reduce Blood Sugar

Many people are unaware that they have diabetes. If you are overweight then ask your doctor if you need to be screened for Type 2 diabetes. Anyone aged 45 years or older should get screened for diabetes.

For those of you who have diabetes, controlling your blood glucose so that your "A1C" value is less than 7% is critical to your health. This will lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes complications.

Browse the American Heart Association's website for more information about "Life's Simple 7." Doing this today might save your life next year.
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Exercise/Health Other Health Issues/Cardiovascular Disease

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