The threat of heart disease may seem distant-something that happens to other people, not you. But it's a mistake to take your heart health for granted. Heart disease remains the number one killer in the U.S., affecting 32 percent of the population.
The good news is there's much you can do to help ward off heart disease. Cardiologist Gary Hoff, D.O., associate dean for clinical affairs at Des Moines University~Osteopathic Medical Center's College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, says simple lifestyle changes can make a world of difference in reducing your chances of developing heart disease.
"Not smoking, getting regular moderate exercise, limiting alcohol consumption, and following a healthy diet can greatly reduce risk factors of developing heart disease," Dr. Hoff says.
As for the food you eat, Dr. Hoff says the two most important things to do are to limit your intake of saturated fats (found in meats, whole milk, butter, cheese and palm and coconut oils) and trans fats (found in many margarines, fried foods, and prepared bakery and snack foods). "Not only will these steps improve an overall cholesterol profile, they will also help you avoid obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes-all of which are heart disease risk factors," Dr. Hoff says.
Results from a recent Nurses' Health study (84,129 female nurses followed for 14 years) provided the strongest evidence yet that relatively simple changes in lifestyle can lead to a dramatic reduction in the number of deaths caused by heart attack. The study showed that a combination of healthy diet, moderate physical exercise, no smoking and limited alcohol consumption can lower a woman's risk of heart disease by as much as 83 percent, and stroke by 75 percent. Results for men in other studies were comparable.
Read the rest of this article in the 1/06 Pilot Tribune.