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Create a healthy lifestyle

Published in Heart & Vascular, For the Health of It Author: Kathleen Mahon, RN, MN, CNP, APHN

Most of the patients I see for a heart disease prevention consultation are motivated to make positive lifestyle changes. Exploring what is driving the desire for change is important. My first question is, “Tell me what brings you here today.” Recently, one woman responded with “I can’t stand the way I look. I need to make a big change like yesterday.”

Sometimes, a desire for a lifestyle change is fueled by a sense of self-deficiency. Our inner critic may be the drive behind the desire and that just doesn’t work very well. That “big change” may make her feel worse and keep the cycle of self criticism going. For example, if she goes on a very strict diet and exercise excessively right at the outset she may end up sore, stiff, hungry and unhappy, which could drive her to the bag of Cheetos.

The first step to change is to accept where we are in this minute. Because after all, that is where we are. It doesn’t mean we don’t want to or shouldn’t make a change. It’s not about complacency. However, we need to silence the inner critic and listen to the inner visionary.

Lifestyle change that is lasting and meaningful is challenging for everyone, but it can be done! The first step is to listen to your inner visionary. Your inner visionary is the bridge to your potential.

Many of us don’t know that diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease or that stroke is the most common cause of adult disability. Chest pain, weakness, palpitations, shortness of breath and the sense of a skipped heart beat or fluttering in the chest are all symptoms that something is not quite right. It’s not just that you’re getting older — these signals may mean that you have a treatable condition.

Learn what you should know about diabetes, and atrial fibrillation. Ask your health care provider to help you create a plan for a more healthy lifestyle.

Food for thought

  • By the year 2050, up to one in three adults is expected to have type 2 diabetes.
  • People with diabetes are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
  • More than 67 percent of American adults are overweight and more than 80 percent of people with diabetes are overweight.
  • Being overweight increases the risk of high blood pressure.
  • High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

According to the American Heart Association, ideal cardiovascular health is based on seven simple factors:

  1. Being a nonsmoker
  2. Having a weight in the normal range
  3. Participating in physical activity
  4. Eating a healthy diet
  5. Having good cholesterol levels
  6. Having normal blood pressure and fasting glucose levels
  7. Being free of heart and blood vessel disease

Unfortunately, most of us do not meet these requirements for ideal cardiovascular health. However, even with high rates of cardiovascular risk factors, more people with cardiovascular disease and stroke are surviving, probably due to advances in treatment options.