Experts believe that the deaths of 80 percent of the 800,000 Americans who died last year from heart–related conditions might have been prevented. Simple measures could have provided significant benefits.
We should be good stewards of God’s gifts, but not obsessed with our health. Rather, we should seek to be as fit as possible for the sake of others who depend on us, and fit for service for the glory of God.
Here are ten tips for promoting heart health that most physicians agree on:
- Avoid all exposure to tobacco. Smoking is much more dangerous than high blood pressure.
- Watch your weight. Your Body Mass Index (BMI), which you can calculate online, should be 25 or less. A man’s belt size should be less that 40” and a woman’s less than 35.”
- Get moving. Regular exercise is good, but even moderate exercise is helpful. You don’t need a gym membership or special equipment. Don’t drive if you can walk.
- If there is heart disease in your family, develop a relationship with a primary care physician who will try to keep your Blood Pressure (BP) under 120/80, your sugar under 100, and your cholesterol under 200.“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” —Proverbs 4:23
- Stress is the body’s response to the pressures of life. A slow–burning resentment is more damaging than a sudden crisis. Healthy relationships promote healthy hearts. However, bitterness, an unforgiving spirit, and unconfessed sin have the opposite effect.
- Believe it or not, getting enough sleep at night is important to heart health, and a chronic lack of adequate sleep has been associated with increasing weight, which puts stress on the heart.
- Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fiber. Enjoy a varied and colorful diet. This is also helpful in preventing many cancers.
- Avoid red meat. Instead, try to eat fish, such as salmon or mackerel, twice a week.
- Select low–fat dairy products; limit or eliminate foods that contain saturated fat, trans–fat, and cholesterol; and limit salt intake.
- Limit consumption of deep–fried foods, snack foods, sugar–sweetened beverages, and margarines.
Take it One Step Further
Bookstores, Amazon.com, and the Internet offer hundreds of books and articles on health–related topics, but the inquirer is easily lost
in a World Wide Web of confusing and inconsistent information.
A conversation with your primary care physician can help bring clarity and offer advice in the context of your personal health history, your family history, as well as your values, lifestyle, and environmental pressures.
You can seek information on your own, but watch out for books or web sites that claim to offer good advice or medical breakthroughs but are actually advertising expensive drugs and supplements.
Try these RECOMMENDED resources:
Consumer Reports On Health Newsletter
($24.00 annually, call 888–590–0030)
The Mayo Clinic Health Letter
($24.00 annually, call 800–333–9037)
by Lt. Colonel Herbert C. Rader, M.D., F.A.C.S.