In the United States, 1 in 4 women die from heart disease every year. Heart disease affects men and women of color at an even more alarming rate. The good news is that heart disease is one of the most preventable diseases. There are many cases of people who exercise regularly and have a clean & healthy diet that unexpectedly die from heart related illnesses. Give the gift of good heart health by knowing 3 key things.
Your blood pressure reflects how hard your heart has to work to pump blood through your arteries (systolic/top number) and how much rest it gets in between beats (diastolic/bottom number). Tip: A reading of 140 or more is considered hypertension or high blood pressure. See the chart below for more details.
Some risk factors for high blood pressure include smoking, stress, age, genetics and family history. Too much salt in your diet, pregnancy, weight and lack of physical activity also play a role.
Blood sugar, or blood glucose, is sugar that the bloodstream carries to all the cells in the body to supply energy. Your blood glucose measurements represent the amount of sugar being transported in the blood at a given moment. Your body works to regulate these levels daily. When your body cannot maintain safe blood glucose levels it’s often an indication that your levels are either too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).
A low blood glucose level is usually a side effect seen in diabetic patients after being treated with medications to regulate (specifically lower) their blood sugar. Other causes of low sugar levels in people without diabetes include: certain kidney and liver disorders, eating disorders and excessive alcohol consumption. Learn more about the causes and risk factors for low blood glucose levels here!
High blood glucose levels are often caused by not using enough insulin or oral diabetes medication, improperly injecting insulin or using expired insulin, not following your diabetes nutrition plan and being inactive. You can read more about the causes and risk factors for high blood glucose levels here.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body. Cholesterol isn’t bad for you at all. Your body needs it to make hormones, vitamins, and substances that help you digest foods. When too much cholesterol circulates through your bloodstream it can build up and harden in the inner walls of the arteries that flow to your heart and brain.
This blockage is what leads to heart attacks, strokes and heart disease. The good news is that high cholesterol is preventable! A clean diet isn’t enough if you have a family history of high cholesterol. Age, gender and race can also affect your cholesterol levels. Read more about risk factors for high cholesterol and how it can affect your heart health here.
Do you know your numbers and risk factors for heart disease? As scary as the statistics are there a plenty of things you can do to improve your odds of preventing and beating heart disease. A healthy lifestyle alone is not enough to minimize your risk. Your family history plays a huge role as well. You should also work with your physician to know your blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels. As a team, you both can come up with a plan to keep your numbers in a healthy range. Implementing these changes and steps can help lead you to a lifetime of great heart health.
Be well & take care.
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