You Have The Power!
Leading a healthy lifestyle can have a tremendous
impact on one’s health. According to the U.S. Public Health Agency,
50% of the factors that determine all aspects of health arise from lifestyle
choices. Considering that only 18% is derived from genetic makeup and 10%
from the health care system, this puts a great deal of responsibility on
an individual to maintain his or her own health. It also underscores the
power that each person has to maintain and improve their health -mind, body
and soul. Cardiovascular disease is largely a lifestyle disease. This means
that many of the factors that cause cardiovascular disease can be minimized
by choices that are made by each individual. The healthiest choices are
to quit smoking, become physically active and make food choices according
to the Canada Food Guide.
Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in Canada-50% of all smokers
will die of a smoking related disease. The chemicals in smoke including
second hand smoke cause such detrimental effects as decreased oxygen in
the blood, increased blood clotting factors, increased LDL or “bad” cholesterol,
decreased HDL or “good” cholesterol, irritation of the lining
of the arteries, induction of coronary spasm, increased blood pressure and
heart rate. These all contribute to the development of a heart attack.
Sedentary living is the major cause of the aging process and a major contributor
to cardiovascular disease. Decreased muscle mass, decreased mental alertness
and frailty can all be associated a decrease in physical activity. Inactivity
is as harmful to your health as smoking. The good news is that it is never
too late to start and each person has the power to improve his/her health
by becoming active. The obvious benefits of exercise are fairly well known,
a healthier distribution of fat, improved posture, and muscle tone, but
many other benefits have also been described. These include improved mental
ability, improved cholesterol profile, decreased blood pressure, improved
sleep, relaxation and stress management patterns, better blood sugar control
in diabetes, improved lower back pain, decreased clotting factors and improved
heart function. Health Canada recommends 30 minutes of moderate activity
most days of the week.
Choosing healthier foods is another method of managing and preventing cardiovascular
disease. According to the Canada Food Guide eat a variety of foods, prepare
food in little or no fat, limit caffeine, salt and alcohol, chose lower
fat dairy products and lean meats and higher fibre foods. These choices
will help control many of the hazards associated with cardiovascular disease
including diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
By making healthy lifestyle choices an individual can have a higher quality
of life. It is one’s own responsibility to make the choices that will
enhance health and well being.
CCRF would like to thank The Wellness Institute for their contribution to the website.
The articles, on the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada website, are presented with the understanding that the Foundation is providing information only and not rendering medical advise. Please check with your family physician, specialist or health care professional before implementing any of the ideas expressed in these articles.
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