Friday, May 04, 2007

Take Heart In Your Diet & Exercise Plan

Risk factors for heart disease include being overweight/obese; having high blood pressure, high triglycerides or low HDL; or a waist circumference larger than 35 inches. Family history is another factor. But knowledge is power. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can assess your situation.

Like family history, some risk factors can’t be controlled. It’s a fact that heart attacks are more prevalent in men than women. And regardless of gender, everyone’s risk increases with age. However, many risk factors can be changed.

A person’s cholesterol level, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity/being overweight and diabetes can contribute to heart disease, but fortunately all of these things can be controlled or sometimes even reversed. Stress is another factor. Although not a primary cause of heart disease, this contributor is often linked to other risk factors like smoking, overeating and high blood pressure.

Excess fat around your middle—what some call “heart attack fat”—has been linked to increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. Researchers speculate that the link between abdominal fat and these conditions may be related to metabolic syndrome—a cluster of conditions such as high blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure—which can increase your disease risk. As waist circumference increases, so does the risk of each of those conditions. Researchers also note that excess abdominal fat may be associated with inflammation, believed to contribute to the risk of heart disease and stroke.
[Sources: American Heart Association and MediResource.]

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