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Ace of Hearts

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Why gamble with your heart health?

nol_apr08_final_medres_page_16_image_0001.jpgA few months ago, New Orleans Living publisher and CEO, Maria Muro,
reported on an ambitious new initiative under way at Ochsner aimed at
reducing “door-to-balloon” time—the length of time it takes to reopen a cardiac
patient’s clogged arteries with a balloon angioplasty upon arrival at the
emergency room—to 90 minutes. Since my own father has undergone this
procedure twice, I find this particularly excellent news; however—also since my
own father has already undergone this procedure twice—I’ve decided to focus
this month’s piece on how we can best take care of our hearts so that we don’t
ever have to end up in the ER. (Again.)

Because, really, why gamble with your cardiac health? If you know there are simple things you can do without medical attention to help keep your ticker in tip-top shape—starting now—why not make the changes before a doctor makes them mandatory for you? Play it safe with these simple heart-healthy steps, and you could be acing your next stress test.

Quit smoking
If you smoke, quit that business! Now. Scientists have found that smoking not only causes cardiovascular disease, but it doubles your risk of heart attack. Smokers are two to three times more likely to die from heart disease than nonsmokers. However, there is good news for those who kick the habit. Just by not smoking, quitters can reduce their risk of heart disease to nonsmoking risk levels within a few years.

Get moving Drink moderately
Exercise is essential for maintaining heart health and for the prevention and Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to elevated levels of reversal of heart disease. If you are not living a physically active lifestyle, you certain fats (called triglycerides) in the blood, high blood pressure, may be putting yourself at serious risk for developing cardiovascular disease; heart failure and—no surprise—excessive calorie intake, which can worse, you may not be enjoying or experiencing your life fully! Your body is a gift lead to unhealthy weight gain and obesity; drinking too much can to enjoy, and when you find physical activities that you actually like doing, you’ll also deplete your body’s store of vitamins and other essential enrich your experience of living in your body and improve the quality of your nutrients. While some studies have suggested that the consumption whole life. When you’re exercising regularly, you’ll be strengthening your heart of some alcohol may provide heart disease prevention benefits for and cardiovascular system, reducing your blood pressure, and improving your some people, the American Heart Association and most doctors do body’s heart failure systems; but you’ll likely be enjoying your newfound energy not recommend consuming alcohol as a method of improving heart and health so much that reducing your risk of heart disease will just feel like an health. If you drink, the best way to protect your heart is to drink in added bonus. moderation. “Moderate drinking” is generally defined as one drink per day for women (or lighter weight people) and two drinks per day for men.

Eat well
You can significantly reduce your risk of developing heart disease by eating a diet that’s better for your heart—not to mention the rest of your body! It doesn’t have Relax to be about denial. Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet; green, leafy Although the relationship between stress and heart disease is still vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin C are particularly recommended as their unclear, stress can lead to high blood pressure and may damage artery antioxidant properties help protect against heart disease. Eat more high-fiber walls; it can also lead to other adverse health conditions, not the foods. Cook with extra virgin olive oil and plenty of garlic (of course, we’ve least of which are decreased levels of happiness and satisfaction with already got that one covered here in New Orleans), both of which have been your life. Reducing the levels of stress and anxiety you live with is a shown to help lower cholesterol. And increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids good way to improve your health and quality of life no matter what by taking daily fish oil supplements. A few healthy additions can make a shape your heart is in; but, if your heart’s health is at risk, living a tremendous difference. (Of course, you can also help your heart by subtracting a low-stress lifestyle can play an important part in your plan to start few things as well: Try to limit your intake of saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, taking the best possible care of your whole self—including your sodium, cholesterol and refined sugar. Your heart will thank you for it.) precious heart.