We reached out to Ballad Health for information on how to protect yourself or someone you love from heart disease, and Ballad provided the following information.
— The American Heart Association says studies show healthy choices have resulted in 330 fewer women dying from heart disease per day.
— Don’t wait! Start healthy habits now. Women who lead a healthy lifestyle before the age of 50 have a better chance of avoiding heart disease.
— Choose nutritious snacks. Ditch processed foods. Have fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and whole grain snacks readily available.
— Maintain a healthy weight. One simple change that can have a big impact is to skip the sugary drinks such as soda and sweet tea.
— If you smoke, decide to quit now. Smoking can increase your risk of heart disease by two to four times. Women who smoke have a 25 percent higher risk of developing heart disease compared to men who smoke.
— Stay active. Start with walking. Wear a pedometer or other fitness tracker for a week or two to find out how many steps you take on average every day. Then every two weeks increase your daily average by 500 steps and before you know it, you’ll hit the recommended 10,000 steps a day.
— Relax! Prolonged exposure to the stress hormone cortisol can damage your arterial linings, making it harder for your heart to do its job.
— Manage your blood sugar.
— Control your blood pressure. The new guidelines from the American Heart Association define normal blood pressure as systolic (top number) less than 120 and diastolic (bottom number) below 80.
— Drink responsibly. Too much alcohol can raise the levels of some fats in the blood (triglycerides). It can also lead to high blood pressure or heart failure. The American Heart Association recommends no more than one drink per day for women with portion size of 4 ounces for wine and 12 ounces for beer.
Know your numbers. Have your cholesterol checked and ask your health care provider to explain the results and recommend lifestyle changes if needed.
The Ballad Health Kingsport Health Resources Center located in the Fort Henry Mall is available to help. Services of the Health Resources Center include smoking cessation education, free pedometers, blood pressure checks and classes on a variety of health topics including nutrition, how to lower your blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and managing blood sugar. Free blood sugar checks will be available on a walk-in basis Saturday, March 17, from 10 a.m. to noon.