Four Ways to Prevent Heart Problems

One, get tested. This involves more than the EKG that is part of your annual physical. One helpful test is a simple blood test to determine the levels of uric acid in your blood. High levels of uric acid are a factor in many health problems such as kidney disease, diabetes and heart disease. Uric acid is a waste product that enters the body through compounds known as purines. A number of foods such as red meat and anchovies are high in purines. Some researchers also believe the high-fructose corn syrup, the sweetener in sodas and many juice drinks may cause purines to manufacture more uric acid.

Another recommended test is relatively new so it may be difficult to procure at your local health facility. This test, known as the EndoPAT, checks the lining of your blood vessels to determine how easily blood is flowing to your heart. It has been proven to be very accurate in identifying patients who are vulnerable to heart attacks or strokes. Because it indicates a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in the very early stages, there is time for the doctor and patient to work out a program of prevention.

Two, get moving. Couch potatoes are at risk for many diseases, not just heart problems. Set up an exercise program and most important, stay with it. Your plan can be as simple as walking for thirty minutes a day. And you do not even have to do it in one bloc of time. You can divide it into three ten-minute walks, morning, noon and night. However, you can also invite a friend and enjoy a pleasant social activity for a half hour in the afternoon after work. Walking with a friend ensures that you are more likely to keep it up.

Three, watch your diet. Choose foods that are high in fiber such as brown rice, brown pasta, and whole grain cuts and cereals. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Reduce your intake of red meats, opting for chicken and turkey instead. Try to eat fish at least twice a week as fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids which you body needs. Limit foods that are high in cholesterol such as cheese. Restrict your visits to the local fast food outlets or make healthy choices when you do go. Most fast food chains have joined the health conscious movement and offer items that are lower in calories and fat.

Four, reduce the amount of daily stress in your life. This may be the hardest of all to do. But it can be done. If you choose a daily walk as your exercise you have combined a stress buster with an exercise activity. Yoga is another way to accomplish this. Daily meditations, massages, and hot baths all have stress reducing effects. The important strategy is to set some some 'me' time, if only fifteen minutes. Then select an activity that you find relaxing and do it. You may at first think you can not afford the time. But you will learn that you will actually make up the time, as you will become more efficient in your other activities.

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Brenda Williams

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