Heart Disease is a Leading Cause of Death

If you think that cancer is the number one killer, you would be right. Certainly, there is a lot of information in the media about this devastating disease. You may be surprised to learn, though, that cancer has only recently made it to the top of the list of causes of death. Heart disease was the reigning number one killer for a many years, and is still a very serious health concern.

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is not a single medical condition, but rather a term that describes several conditions that have a negative effect on the heart muscle and how it functions. The HeartMart website describes most of the common conditions – take a visit! What you learn might help save your life or the life of a loved one.

Factors that Contribute to Heart Disease

A number of factors have a hand in your likelihood of developing heart disease.

  1. Genetics

You have absolutely no control over your family history, but it is a major heart disease risk factor. If a close relative has had heart disease, you haveĀ a greater chance of developing this condition yourself. That doesn’t mean you should throw up your hands and conclude that there is nothing you can do. An increased risk is not a sure thing and if you focus on the things you can control (level of physical activity, diet and being a non-smoker), you may go through life without developing heart disease at all.

  1. Smoking

Cigarette smoking is an extremely hard habit to break. The nicotine contained in cigarettes is a highly-addictive substance. When a smoker takes a drag off a cigarette, they experience a rush from the nicotine within a few seconds, and this is what the nicotine addict craves.

  1. Obesity

Obesity is another condition that increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease, and unfortunately, it is on the rise in the United States.

Obesity is defined as weighing 30 percent or more above the recommended weight standards for an individual’s height.

In your quest to lessen your risk of developing heart disease, it’s important to keep your cholesterol levels down to the recommended range. If you have been told by your doctor that you have high cholesterol, you can try to control your condition by making changes to your diet. Medications may be prescribed to regulate your cholesterol levels as well.

The best things you can do for yourself when trying to prevent heart disease is to eat well and be physically active. A balanced diet that includes a variety of foods will help you look and feel better. You do need some fat in your diet, so don’t think that by eliminating all fats that you are going to lessen your risk of developing heart disease. Regular exercise helps to strengthen the heart muscle and burns fat, too.

Keep an eye on the HeartMart blog and plan on visiting regularly. We will be posting healthy diet plans for you to follow, along with suggestions for exercise routines you may want to try. Other posts will deal with how to determine whether you are at risk for developing heart disease.

Fitness Jobs and Health Careers

Heartmart editors primarily focus on heart diseases – causes, prevention, and treatment. If you have been reading our blog then you know this already. It’s somewhat of a tangent, but we have set up a health and fitness jobs list, which is full of employment opportunities. The board is updated every day and includes openings for dietitians, nutritionists, fitness instructors, strength and conditioning coaches, personal trainers, and so forth.

Obviously, some positions require a great deal of training, advanced degrees, or perhaps certifications. But if you’re someone who has been struggling to get healthy then perhaps finding a part-time or full-time at a health club could prove helpful. Health clubs give their employees free or substantially discounted facility access. Being around a bunch of people who are exercising…heck, if that’s not motivation to get in or stay in shape – what is?

Similarly, if you’re motivated to get your body (and heart) into shape it could also be helpful to work at a diet center or any type of health oriented facility. Right? As an employee you gain access to consultants!

So check out our fitness job board. Bookmark it.

Put Down that Salt Shaker to Prevent Heart Disease

We need to have some salt in our diet in order to stay healthy. Unfortunately, a diet high in processed food contains far more than the recommended 5 grams that should be ingested each day. If you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, you need to train yourself to reach for the salt shaker less often. Chances are that you are getting enough salt from the food that you eat, and you don’t need to add any more. Instead, use herbs and spices to give the flavor of your food a boost. Have some fun and experiment with different combinations to see which ones you like best.

Genetics and Heart Disease

Scientists have known for some time that the risk of developing early onset heart disease (under the age of 40) had a hereditary link, but did not which genetic marker was responsible for it. New research into the gene believed responsible for heart disease has now revealed that a variation of the protein neuropeptide Y (NPY) is the likely culprit. It’s probably no coincidence that this protein has been linked to the ability to control appetite.

When researchers conducted a study involving 1,000 families, they found that a link exists between people who carry this variation of the gene and people who have heart disease or a family history of the disorder.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Heart Disease in Women Linked

Researchers at Harvard and Johns Hopkins have released the results of a 14-year study on women with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and heart disease. The results were very interesting, to say the least: Women who had at least five symptoms of PTSD were at an increased risk for developing heart disease. The risk factor increased by 300 percent.

PTSD falls under the category of anxiety disorders, which affect approximately 10 percent of the general population. Both children and adults can develop symptoms, which can be so severe that they interfere with normal living.

After being involved in a traumatic event, such as an accident, natural disaster, combat, or being the victim of a crime, the individual may start to experience flashbacks or nightmares. In the second phase of the disorder, the person feels emotionally numb and starts to avoid places or circumstances that remind them of the traumatic event.

As the disorder progressed, the person may have difficulty sleeping. Insomnia is common for people with PTSD, and they may have trouble focusing on tasks they need to perform. Some people living with PTSD become more aggressive as the disorder develops.

The results of the study into PTSD and heart disease in women point to women with the disorder being identified as an “at risk” portion of the population. Not only do they need to get treatment for the PTSD, but they must also be made aware of the increased risk of heart disease the disorder poses for them. Doctors need to provide information about ways to reduce the risk and encourage their patients to implement them at a time when they are not feeling at their best. The results of this study underscore the need for women with PTSD to seek prompt treatment for the condition, since there can be serious health consequences along with the effects of the PTSD itself.

Oatmeal for Heart Health

Your mother probably told you to eat oatmeal because she wanted you to start off the day with a hot breakfast. Oatmeal has other health benefits, though: eating this food on a regular basis can help to lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes (Type 2 variety).

To get the maximum benefit from the oatmeal, buy the plain variety. The prepackaged type is loaded with sugar, which you don’t need if you are trying to stay true to your heart healthy diet. Instead, choose steel cut oats and add some fruit if you want to sweeten it. Your heart will thank you for making this choice.

Facts About Three Types of Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when an individual has excessive amounts of sugar in his or her blood stream. An inadequate amount of insulin production or insulin resistance can cause the condition. There are three types of diabetes that a person can be diagnosed with, and each one has its own set of symptoms.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes usually presents in children, and occurs when the body either doesn’t produce insulin at all or doesn’t produce sufficient insulin. The youngster will need to have insulin injected on a daily basis, and will need to monitor his or her blood sugar regularly.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is actually the more common variety of this disorder. It accounts for more then 90 percent of cases, although it is usually diagnosed in adults, children can develop this condition as well due to the increase in childhood obesity.

A person with Type 2 Diabetes is unable to produce enough insulin. Many people have Type 2 Diabetes but do not realize they have it. In some cases, it takes a number of years before they are diagnosed. Older adults are susceptible to developing Type 2 Diabetes because of lack of physical activity and being overweight.

Gestational Diabetes

This form of diabetes affects pregnant women. It’s different from the other two types of Diabetes because it’s a situational disorder that occurs due to elevated blood glucose levels during pregnancy. After the woman gives birth, her glucose levels drop down to a normal level. Having gestational diabetes and giving birth to a large baby (nine lbs. or more) means that you will be at increased risk of developing the condition during a subsequent pregnancy. Regular checkups mean this condition can be diagnosed early and managed appropriately.

How Much Exercise Do You Need to Prevent Heart Disease?

You may have heard that cardiovascular exercise is one way to help prevent heart disease, but do you know how much you need to stay healthy? New Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published at the end of 2008 suggest the following levels of exercise for adults (18-64 years of age):

  • 2.5 hours of moderate exercise (walking or participating in an exercise class)
  • 1.25 hours of vigorous exercise (jogging, cycling, or swimming)

This doesn’t seem like such a daunting task, does it? Getting active means that you will increase your life expectancy by between three and seven years, on average. If it means you will be around longer, it’s well worth the effort.

Non-Smoking Bylaws Lead to Fewer Heart Attacks

More municipalities banning smoking in public places has been directly linked to lower heart attack rates. The results of a study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Week Report published by the Centers for Disease Control on January 2, 2009 confirmed this fact.

The goal of passing non-smoking legislation is to protect non-smokers from the negative health effects associated with second-hand smoke. Even inhaling a small amount puts the non-smoker at an increased risk of developing heart disease. Perhaps not being able to smoke in public places will encourage more smokers to give up the habit.

Kawasaki Syndrome and Jett Travolta

John Travolta and Kelly Preston’s 16-year-old son, Jett, died on January 2, 2009. He apparently had a seizure and struck his head in the bathtub. Jett Travolta had been diagnosed with Kawasaki Syndrome.

Symptoms of the disease include a rash, swelling in the extremities, and swollen neck glands. Kawasaki Syndrome also causes acquired heart disease in children. This is a rare disorder that affects less than 20 out of every 100,000 children. Treatment involves giving the child purified antibodies intravenously. Aspirin may also be given as a way to reduce the likelihood of problems with the child’s heart.