Tag Archives: Cholesterol

5 Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease

Protect Your Heart with These Heart-Healthy Tips

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. In 2017, approximately 630,000 Americans died from heart disease — that’s nearly 1 in every 4 deaths (Medical News Today). In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds! As advocates for CPR and AED training, heart health, and the prevention of sudden cardiac death, we find these statistics incredibly grim.

While you can’t control certain risk factors such as your age, family history, gender, race, or ethnicity, there are plenty of ways you can lead a heart-healthy lifestyle…and that’s what we’ll be focusing on this week.

5 Practical Ways You Can Prevent Heart Disease

#1 — Eat More Fiber (and Less Saturated Fat)

The iconic “Got Milk?” advertising campaign, which turned 25 this year, made drinking milk look downright sexy. But just because the decades-old campaign has decidedly more star power and cache than “Got Fiber?” or “Got Broccoli?” could ever hope for, that doesn’t mean they aren’t good ideas.

The American Heart Association recommends having a few meals without meat each week. By reducing your meat intake and upping your consumption of fruit, veggies, legumes, and whole grains, you’ll dramatically increase the amount of fiber in your diet while simultaneously reducing the number of saturated fats you ingest. It’s a win-win!

Yes, we realize that Thanksgiving is on the horizon and visions of turkey and cornbread and sausage stuffing are peppering your dreams. But we’re going to say that eating vegetarian meals (or, at the very least, meals with less meat) may help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. (You’ll find that it’s easier on your grocery bill, too!)

If the notion of walking an entirely vegetarian path is too daunting, start by incorporating a meal or two a week in which meat plays a supporting role. Then, gradually work up to a few full-on vegetarian options. While the internet is a great place to start your journey towards a healthier menu, finding well-written and reliable recipes can be a challenge. We recommend visiting your local library and checking out a few titles. A few of our favorite veg-heavy and family-friendly cookbooks (translation: great for busy weeknights) include Ottolenghi Simple, Milk Street: Tuesday Nights, and A Modern Way to Cook.

#2 — Watch Your Weight

A few weeks ago we wrote about the relationship between obesity and sudden cardiac death in young people, but being overweight is a key risk factor for heart disease for people of all ages. Which is especially troubling, considering that 72% of Americans are either overweight or obese (Centers for Disease Control). Obesity can put you at risk for a myriad of health problems related to heart disease such as stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. If you’re worried about your weight, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor or to contact a nutritionist to develop a plan of action.

Losing weight can be daunting, but here’s the good news: there’s scientific evidence that losing just 5% of your body weight can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, decrease your risk of diabetes, help pave the way for a better night’s sleep, and reduce inflammation (Obesity Action Coalition).

#3 — Make a Promise to Yourself to Exercise More

New Federal physical activity guidelines released on earlier this week recommend that adults “…complete at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week, along with strength training twice a week. They also suggest balance training for older people and, for the first time, urge kids between the ages of 3 and 5 to be active for at least three hours a day, an acknowledgment that even small children run the risk of being too sedentary these days” (New York Times).

Staying active and fit can lower your blood pressure, help you lose or maintain your weight, lower your cholesterol, help control your blood sugar, and reduce your stress levels.

Okay, we all know why exercise is good for us, but only 1 in 5 adults and teens get enough exercise. Yikes!

If you’re sedentary, start by simply getting up more frequently and moving around. Invest in a pedometer, Fitbit, or step-counting app to help you achieve your fitness goals. Soon, you’ll find yourself taking the stairs, rather than the elevator and parking as far away from the entrance as possible. Every step counts, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they add up!

Once you’ve hit your 10,000 steps-per-day goal, set your sites on some cardio and weight training. Make exercising social by going to a class at the gym or by enlisting a friend to work out or walk with you. If you’re the solitary sort, go for a meditative walk or run. Either way, be consistent but be willing cut yourself some slack; if there are days when fitting in 30 minutes of exercise seems impossible, try to fit in a few 10-minute exercise breaks throughout the day.

You may want to speak with your physician before starting an exercise program.

#4 — Read Labels

Who knew that reading was such a great strategy for preventing heart disease?! Following a heart-healthy diet means keeping a close eye on your sodium, sugar, and fat intake, since these are tied to heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. What better way to watch what you eat than to read the fine print?

Generally speaking, pre-packaged foods aren’t as healthy as meals and snacks that are prepared fresh from whole ingredients. While you’re paying attention to calories, fats, sodium, and sugar, be sure to keep an eye on serving sizes! Hint: beverages can be a surprising source of sugar and sodium. Eliminating soda, energy drinks, supermarket smoothies, and juices can do wonders for your daily calorie intake.

#5 — Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Poor sleep is tied to a number of risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, heart failure, and sleep apnea. For many, getting a good night’s sleep (that’s 7-9 hours for adults) is harder than it sounds. Invest in a white noise machine, avoid afternoon coffee runs and evening chocolate binges, turn off the TV, go to sleep at the same time every night, and avoid alcohol before bedtime.

Ready to promote heart-healthy choices and cardiac awareness at your workplace? Contact us to learn more about our blended or traditional CPR and First Aid training courses. Call our team at 866-349-4362 or email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month

Elevated cholesterol levels can put you at high risk for heart disease. Find out if you have high cholesterol and encourage your loved ones to do the same!

We’re all about awareness and prevention here at Cardio Partners and AED.com so in honor of National Cholesterol Awareness month, this week’s post is chock-full of facts about cholesterol and some helpful tips for keeping your cholesterol in line.

Facts About Cholesterol

Did you know that more than 95 million American adults over the age of 20 have total cholesterol levels at or above 200 mg/dL, and that more than 29 million of these people have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)?

There’s no way around it: having high blood cholesterol puts you at risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, people with high cholesterol have nearly twice the risk of heart disease as people with lower levels.

In 2011-2012, the CDC reported that 78 million Americans (nearly 37% the population) have high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — that’s what most of us call “bad” cholesterol — and just 43 million (55%) of the population who need cholesterol medication are currently taking it.

Although high cholesterol is more common among adults, 7% of children and adolescents ages six to 19 have high total cholesterol (CDC).

You may be surprised to discover that cholesterol levels vary by race, gender, and ethnicity. Women are more likely to have high total cholesterol than men and Hispanics are more likely to have higher total cholesterol than African Americans, whites, or Asians.

What is Cholesterol, Exactly?

First of all, it’s not all bad. Your body needs some cholesterol to function. The trouble comes when you have too much of a good thing and it begins to accumulate on your arteries.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that can be found in every cell in your body. It’s a critical component in building cell membranes. Cholesterol is also used to make vitamin D, hormones like estrogen and testosterone, and fat-dissolving bile acids. Because it’s so important to your body’s ability to function, your liver and intestines produce approximately 80% of the cholesterol your body needs to stay healthy (Harvard Health Publishing).

Which means only 20% comes from the foods you eat!

What You Can (and Cannot) Control About Your Cholesterol

In many instances, the amount of LDL in your bloodstream and how fast your body removes it is determined by your genes. If high cholesterol runs in your family, be sure to keep a close eye on your levels. Although you can’t control your genetics, age, or gender, there’s still plenty you can do to help lower your overall cholesterol.

Exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking all help prevent high cholesterol and reduce your total cholesterol count.

There are three nutrients known to increase those dreaded LDL levels: saturated fats (found mostly in foods that come from animal proteins), trans fats (found primarily in foods made from hydrogenated oils and fats such as margarine or crackers), and cholesterol found in animal products such as egg yolks, butter, and cream.

If you have high cholesterol or high cholesterol runs in your family, medical experts recommend a diet that’s full of LDL-lowering foods (fruits, vegetables, and whole grain) and goes easy on LDL-rich fatty foods (meat, eggs, butter).

Here are a few foods that have been proven to lower your LDL (Harvard Health Publishing) while giving your HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol) a boost:

  • Oats
  • Barley and other whole grains
  • Eggplant, okra, and other low-calorie vegetables high in soluble fiber
  • Vegetable oils (in place of butter, margarine, lard, or shortening)
  • Apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits
  • Soy
  • Fatty fish

Know Your Cholesterol Numbers

High cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people don’t even know that their cholesterol levels are elevated. Your doctor can do a simple fasting blood test to check your levels. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults get their cholesterol checked every five years.

The CDC recommends total cholesterol levels remain less than 200 mg/DL. Your LDL should be less than 100 mg/DL and your HDL should be 60 mg/DL or higher. Triglycerides should remain under 150 mg/DL.

Lowering your cholesterol can reduce your risk of having a heart attack, suffering from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) brought on by a heart attack (learn more about the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack), undergoing heart bypass surgery or angioplasty, or dying from heart disease. If you haven’t had your cholesterol checked recently, make an appointment today!