Heart-Felt Tips For a Healthy Heart (Continued)


In your heart of hearts you know you shouldn't be SMOKING
Stub out that smoke! Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Everyone has been telling you how bad smoking is for you. Blah, blah, emphysema, blah, blah. Yada, yada, lung cancer, yada, yada. First, second, and third hand smoke. Yes, you've heard it all before.

And you might even have heard (and have probably conveniently forgotten) that smoking doubles your risk of getting heart disease. Doubles. As in times two. Talk about shot through the heart.

But I'm wondering if anyone ever bothered to tell you how and why? This isn't just a case of docs not liking an "unhealthy" habit. Smoking has an immediate effect on the body's circulatory system. Smoking is a vasoconstrictor. Each puff on a cigarette is like having a pissed-off octopus grab your aorta and squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze it. And squeeeeeezed blood vessels are smaller in diameter. Which means blood has a harder time getting though. Which means the heart has to work harder.

And if the angry octopus doesn't do it for you, think back to childhood. Remember playing with the garden hose? When you wanted to spray it further or move it, you pinched it off, twisting it over on itself. The pressure would shoot up and the hose would hiss like a snake.

I want you to picture hissing snakes inside your chest the next time you decide to light up to "relax."

Why being a sweetheart is a bad idea
It's this simple: high blood sugar is bad for your heart. High blood sugar interferes with vasodilation, keeping the blood vessels narrow, the opposite side of the smoking coin. High levels of glucose in your blood also add to plaque buildup.

Elevated blood sugar causes both macro and micro vascular damage. That means it's toxic to blood vessels large and small alike. The heart of the matter is that sugar is poison to your heart.

But keeping you sugar in target is something we all know how to do. We can watch what we eat. We can take our meds. We can test our blood sugar.

A heart of gold
So there you have it. Love your heart and it'll love you back. Diabetes stacks the deck against us, but if we keep our tummies trim, our cholesterol in check, our blood pressure down, kick the habit, and control our blood sugar — we won't be-still our beating hearts before our time.

Wil Dubois is the author of four multi-award-winning books about diabetes. He is a PWD type 1, and is the diabetes coordinator for a rural non-profit clinic. Visit his blog, LifeAfterDX.

Read Wil's bio here.

Read more of Wil Dubois' columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.


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Last Modified Date: July 03, 2013

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