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Your Heart Health

We all know that keeping up with our heart health is an important thing to do. We all know that there are a wide variety of factors that cause heart problems, and we should know by now that there are some basic ways to help protect the health of our hearts. What many people do not realize, however, is that keys to their heart health may be different than keys to the heart health of others.

There are almost as many strategies and tips for having good heart health as there are people with hearts in the world. It is important that each person takes the time to learn about his or her own heart health and to learn about the possible methods of ensuring heart health for years to come.

One of the best ways for anyone to become familiar with the needs of their heart is to see a physician. Schedule a visit to see your doctor and plan to discuss your heart health with him or her. If you can think of any questions or concerns you have regarding your heart health, write them down and bring them along. It will also be very helpful if you have a record of your extended family's heart health history. It is likely that your physician will want to discuss more than just your own heart health. He or she will want to look for patterns or trends that have affected other people you're related to.

A physician can help you determine not only the current health of your heart, but also give you a better understanding of specific things you can do to help prevent heart attack or heart disease. For some people, the most significant factor in achieving and maintaining heart health is to change their diet. The foods we choose to put into our bodies affect our heart health in more ways than we know. Eating large amounts of sugar, carbohydrates or processed foods will eventually take their toll on our heart health. Your physician can set you up with a dietician who specializes in creating unique diet plans that promote heart health.

For other people, it is their exercise and physical fitness habits that a physician will address. Heart health can be significantly altered based upon a person's level of exercise. Your physician will be able to help you create a fitness plan that will be effective for you and your heart health needs.

It is never too late to take your heart health seriously. Make an appointment to see your physician today.

You can protect yourself from stroke. That's just as well, considering every 45 seconds, someone in the U.S. has one. It kills about 160,000 people a year, mostly women; annually, about 40,000 more women than men have strokes and over 60 percent of all stroke deaths occur in women. 

It's important to know the risk factors, some of which are preventable and controllable, and to recognize the symptoms so that many of the serious side effects can be avoided.

Blood Pressure: According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is the number one controllable risk factor for stroke. Family history and obesity factor in developing high blood pressure and women who take birth control pills or have reached menopause are at higher risk. A healthy lifestyle helps but for many, medications are required. 

Cholesterol: High levels of "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol raise the risk of heart disease and stroke; high levels of "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol lower it. Studies show women's cholesterol is higher than men's from age 45 on and that low levels of HDL cholesterol seem to be a stronger risk factor for women.

Diabetes: Diabetes is associated with high blood pressure and interferes with the ability to break down clots, increasing the risk of ischemic stroke. Lifestyle modifications and medications can help. 

Diet and Exercise: Thirty minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can help prevent heart and blood vessel disease and control blood cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, as well as lower blood pressure. People with excess body fat-especially around the waist-are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke. Eat healthy foods low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. 

Smoking and Drinking: Smokers and those exposed to smoke daily are at a greater risk for stroke. Excessive alcohol intake can contribute to high blood pressure. 

Stroke Symptoms: It's vital to recognize the symptoms of stroke and to seek help immediately. Time is of the essence when it comes to preventing debilitating and long-lasting effects. Symptoms include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, or a sudden, severe headache with no known cause. 

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