An Ounce of Prevention…
How you live your life affects the health of your heart and can increase or decrease your chances of having a heart attack. The good news, however, is that 80% of premature heart attacks and strokes are preventable. If you have a heart condition follow up with your physician, there are many medications to treat heart disease. The following ten steps can also help prevent a heart attack and/or help you recover from one.
- Quit smoking: The single most important thing you can do to improve your heart's health is to stop smoking. Avoid secondhand smoke. Being around secondhand smoke can potentially trigger a heart attack.
- Maintain a healthy cholesterol level: Your total blood cholesterol is a measure of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and other lipid components. The recommended total cholesterol level is below 200. If your LDH "bad cholesterol” levels are high, your doctor can prescribe changes to your diet and medications to help lower the numbers.
- Control your blood pressure: Your goal is 120/80 or lower.
- Exercise regularly: Doctors recommend 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times a week at the bare minimum.
- Get adequate sleep: Doctors suggest that you should get about 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Maintain a healthy weight and body mass index.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. Cut down on saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt. Increase your consumption of fish, whole grains, nuts, fruit and vegetables.
- Manage/reduce stress in your day-to-day activities.
- Aspirin Therapy: The American Heart Association recommends that people at high risk for a heart attack should take a daily low-dose of aspirin (if told to by their physician). Additionally, heart attack survivors regularly take low-dose aspirin. Your doctor will suggest a dosage of 75-325 mg.
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. In moderation, alcohol helps raise HDL levels (good cholesterol) and can have a protective effect against heart attack. Men should have no more than two drinks a day, and women should have no more than one.
In conclusion: Did you know?
- Studies have shown that nearly 50% of police officers die of heart disease within five years of retirement
- Chronic stress is linked to more heart disease among police officers
- Police officers live an average of 15years less than the average American
- Statistically, law enforcement officers are 25 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease (CVD) than from the action of a suspect.
It is time to take your cardiac health seriously. Be careful out there. Double check your pocket, is your aspirin still there?