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Heart and Vascular Health

Simple lifestyle changes can reduce risks for heart attack

A new cluster of symptoms is helping healthcare professionals identify people who may be at early risk for having a heart attack or stroke later in life.

The symptoms, referred to as Metabolic Syndrome, don’t cause aches or pains in the earliest stages. By noticing and even preventing these silent red flags, men and women can reduce their chances for developing heart disease, the number one killer in the United States, and other diseases.

For example, by making just a few lifestyle changes, a person can reduce his or her risk for diabetes by 58%.

Metabolic Syndrome includes the following criteria: - Blood pressure greater than 130/85
- Fasting blood sugar greater or equal to 100
- Triglycerides greater than 150
- HDL less than 40 for men and less than 50 for women
- Waist measurement (abdominal) greater than 40 for men and greater than 35 for women

A person who has three or more of these five symptoms is considered to have Metabolic Syndrome and needs to make some changes in his or her lifestyle.

The good news is that it’s possible to prevent and reduce these symptoms. Sometimes, all it takes is adding a few minutes of exercise to your daily routine. Other action steps include:

- Quit smoking
- Lose weight
- Exercise (five times a week for at least 30 minutes each session)
- Follow a heart healthy diet (high in fiber, low in fat and sodium)
- Eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables daily
- Opt for whole grains whenever possible
- Control portions at meals and limit snacking
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Reduce stress, which can greatly impact your heart

In addition, it’s important to know your numbers. Each year, be sure to schedule an annual check-up and have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked. If these numbers are elevated, work with your doctor to lower them.

Anyone who is overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle is at risk for Metabolic Syndrome.

Teens are also considered at risk, due to the growing problem of obesity in this country. Currently, in the United States, there are more than nine million children and adolescents between the ages of six and 19 who are overweight. Healthcare professionals predict by the year 2050, nearly the entire population of the U.S. will be overweight.

Health should a priority for everyone, especially someone who has Metabolic Syndrome. By making a few – and easy – changes, you can improve the quality of your life and reduce the chances of having a heart attack or stroke later in life.

Julie Losasso, RN, BSN, manager of education and prevention at Edward Heart Hospital, contributed to this article in cooperation with Edward Hospital.


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801 S. Washington, Naperville, IL 60540 • (630) 527-3000

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