By Kristin Traverson
It’s a New Decade
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it,” according to famous philosopher George Santayana. One hundred years ago, the leading cause of death was infectious disease. Medicine has evolved spectacularly over the years in order to treat diseases such as influenza, pneumonia, the common cold, strep throat, etc. We have learned how to prevent the spread of infectious diseases to the best of our ability and continue to use practices that are in the best interest for the health of our citizens.
Now, the leading cause of death is chronic disease; and what is at the top of the list? Cardiovascular disease (CVD). With cardiovascular disease may come additional chronic diseases, one being diabetes. Although some individuals may be at higher risk than others, it is imperative to take action when we can to prevent what we can.
How has CVD Snuck Up on the U.S.?
One might ask, “How does cardiovascular disease develop?” Many risk factors are identified under specific criteria to determine someone’s likelihood of CVD. Family history has a huge role in one’s chances of developing CVD. But just because an immediate family member may suffer from CVD does not mean you are doomed.
There are many lifestyle choices one can make to determine their long-term health, but unfortunately, age and family history are not factors you have much control over. As far as cigarette smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, pre-diabetes and HDL, there are opportunities to make choices that will benefit your health in the long run. Obesity is a major component when it comes down to the likelihood of having additional risk factors.
Healthy Heart Choices
Your heart needs you just as much as you need your heart. So, what can you do?
- Get up and move. 30 minutes a day, five times a week (150 minutes per week) is the recommendation of exercise for healthy adults. Exercise does not have to be a burden! Change it up and find activities you enjoy and stick to it. Exercise can be anything from walking, running, swimming, dancing, cycling, playing basketball, etc.
- Nutrients and portion sizes are crucial. Consume foods low in fat, sodium and sugar. Avoid processed foods and shoot for fresh fruits and veggies when able. Be smart with portion sizes. You don’t have to rid yourself completely from foods you enjoy, but enjoy them in moderation. In order to prevent weight gain, focus on the calories you are taking in and the calories you are expending each day. Weight gain and obesity lead to many health issues, especially heart disease.
- Smoking cessation. Whether you quit “cold turkey” or slowly wean down your consumption, stopping smoking is one of the best decisions a person can make for their health. It is important to recognize nicotine is highly addictive and your body will take time to adjust once it is no longer in your system. Prepare for that. Prepare for the cravings and urges to pick up another cigarette. Designate a friend, family member or someone in your community to hold you accountable. You can do it — it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it, and your body will thank you.
- Stress management. No one’s life is entirely stress free, so how can we manage our stress before it begins to cause health issues? There are many techniques to manage stress, a few include exercise, meditation, positive self-talk and engaging in an activity that is enjoyable to you.
Cardiac Rehabilitation is Here for You
Cardiac Rehabilitation is a medically supervised program that helps improve cardiovascular health in those who have experienced a heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty or have had a past heart surgery. Prowers Medical Center has an exceptional program that gets you moving. We educate on and guide heart-healthy decision-making, and are here to assist in stress management in your day-to-day life.
Why participate in Cardiac Rehab? Specificity. We are here to prescribe exercises specific to each individual, which will get your heart pumping and strengthen your cardiovascular system. After an event, such as heart attack, it is important that strength is restored in order to return to daily routines. Not only will we help you get back on your feet, but we will also prepare you and strengthen your body, putting you at your full potential. Cardiac Rehab is a team effort, and we are here to help.
For more information on Cardiac Rehabilitation at Prowers Medical Center, call 719-336-6731 or visit prowersmedical.com.