RN Advice: The Heart Truth

Posted on January 29, 2012 by


Coach Peggi Ingram, RN

February is National Heart Health month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. striking more than 1 in 4 American’s each year. While our awareness to heart disease has increased, there are many unfounded beliefs that raise the risk of having a fatal heart event such as:

  1. Heart disease runs in my family so there is nothing I can do to prevent it.   While genetics plays a role in heart disease and puts you at greater risk, there are many steps you can take to dramatically reduce your risk; Get active, control your blood cholesterol levels with proper diet and exercise, manage blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight, control blood sugar, and stop smoking.
  1. Heart Disease doesn’t affect those who are fit and strong.  Staying fit and active improves heart health and decreases your risk of heart disease but does not eliminate them.  Exercise lowers your bad cholesterol (LDL) that leads to heart disease but it also increases your good cholesterol (HDL) that protects against heart disease.  Exercise also plays an important role in decreasing the inflammatory processes that can lead to clogged arteries and heart attacks.
  1. Foods advertised as no/low cholesterol is ok to eat.  Cholesterol has gotten a bum rap.  Our bodies need a certain amount of healthy fats to function and some fats are quite beneficial to heart health such as the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil and avocados.  It is important to read food labels.  Foods that are processed to remove the naturally appearing cholesterol and fats also have sugar and salt added to enhance the flavor making the food tasty but with little or no nutritional value.

Some risk factors for heart disease are controllable and some are not.  Uncontrollable risk factors include: male sex, older age, family history, post-menopausal and race. Risk factors that you can control include obesity, smoking, diabetes, stress, inactivity, and abnormal cholesterol numbers.  With proper SELF CARE you can lower your risks and have a happy, healthy heart for decades to come.

 Coach Peggi Ingram, RN

Chicago, Illinois

Posted in: RN Advice