Heart-Felt Tips For a Healthy Heart
5 ways to lower your risk of disease.
By Wil Dubois
El corazn. The old ticker. Your clock. Yes, I am talking about your heart today. That amazing less-than-a-pound ball of muscle in your chest that you quite literally can't live without.
Your heart started beating while you were in your mother's womb, about four weeks after Valentine's Day (or whatever romantic occasion you were conceived on); and it beats — generally uninterrupted — until your dying day. During its stint of duty, it will beat two-and-a-half billion times, moving a stunning 2,000 gallons a day of blood around your body in the process. And when your heart gives its last beat, the show is over. Death, clinically, is often defined as the time after the last heartbeat.
So to stay alive, you gotta keep your heart beating. To stay alive until your warranty is up, you need to keep your heart healthy.
Simple steps for heart health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in our country, and the leading cause of death among people with diabetes. Surprised? Yep! Diabetes doesn't do in diabetics; heart stuff does. And the bummer is that simply having diabetes at all increases your risk of heart disease, which increases your risk for a premature death.
But the good news is that there are ways to reduce your risk. Now, of course, there's some stuff you can't do anything about. You can't change your family history, or the fact that you have diabetes. But here are five things that can dramatically reduce your risk for heart disease that are within your power to change.
These are called modifiable risk factors. If you un-modify them you will reduce your risk of a broken heart.
Your mother was right: the way to a man's heart is through his stomach
Only not in a good way. Having a big tummy is actually a risk factor for heart disease. No kidding. Called "central obesity," it manifests as the classic beer belly where fat is deposited around the waist and stomach — not over the hips. How much is too much? Whip out a tape measure. Guys, your cut-off is 40 inches. Ladies, 35 inches. If your stomach breaks these barriers your heart disease risk jumps up.
Tip: if you don't have a cloth tape measure to use, use a piece of string. Wrap it around your waist at the belly button, and then measure the string with a metal tape measure, yard stick, or ruler.
Of course the more inches above target your waist is, the greater your risk. But the reverse is true, too. Any reduction in inches is a reduction in risk. While it's not something you can do in a heartbeat, your girth is within your power to change.
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Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...