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The Ins & Outs of Heart Disease

Diabetes mellitus increases risk for heart disease.  Consider the following to reduce your risk for heart disease.

Heart disease is a disorder in which arteries become clogged and ultimately, blocked with plaque deposits causing a lack of blood flow to the heart.  

The American Heart Association has identified 6 major risk factors for heart disease that can be treated or controlled by lifestyle changes and/or medications.  These 6 risk factors are:

  1. obesity - a body weight 20% over the ideal body weight for height 
  2. physical inactivity - lack of exercise, particularly cardiovascular exercise increases risk
  3. smoking - this is due to the stimulant (nicotine) that increases heart rate and the carbon monoxide breathed in
  4. elevated blood cholesterol - a total cholesterol of 240 mg/dl increases risk as well as a LDL-cholesterol over 130 mg/dl and/or a HDL-cholesterol under 40 mg/dl
  5. elevated blood pressure - increased blood pressure equates to increased force for blood to move though the body (this means extra work for your body)
  6. diabetes - having diabetes increases your risk of heart disease

To reduce your risk...

  1. Maintain a healthy body weight - a reduction of 5-10% of total body weight can be beneficial.
  2. Exercise - incorporate 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week, every week.
  3. Don't smoke!
  4. Control blood sugar - talk with your doctor or diabetes educator about blood sugar goals.
  5. Follow a low fat diet - consume <30% calories from fat, <10% calories from saturated fat, & <300 mg. dietary cholesterol.
  6. Limit processed and high sodium foods - consume <2400 mg. sodium each day.
  7. Eat seafood twice a week - research is finding seafood has protective benefits against heart disease.  Prepare seafood by baking, grilling or poaching instead of frying (frying adds fat).
  8. Focus on whole grains, vegetables, & fruits.  These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Talk with your doctor to learn about your risk factors for heart disease and what steps you should take to reduce your risk today!

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