Today 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold. That’s nothing compared to the 8 billion, yes 8 BILLION, chalky little “Will You Be Mine” heart shaped candies that will fly off the shelf just in time to tell someone special that they are your sweetheart.
But an even more staggering number is this one — 267,000 women die each year from heart attacks — six times as many women as breast cancer.
A large study, called the INTERHEART Study, showed that there are nine major risk factors that account for heart attacks. The good news that came out of this study — heart disease is preventable.
Over the next few days, we’ll look at those nine factors and how you can love your heart and live longer.
1. Smoking Ladies, one of the best things you can do to prevent heart disease is to put an end to smoking. According to the INTERHEART Study, even smoking one to five cigarettes daily increases your risk for a heart attack by 40 percent. Second hand smoke should be avoided. Once you decide that you really want to take an actionable step to help keep your heart healthy, that’s good news. There is help for nicotine addiction. There are smoking cessation programs that can help.
2. High Cholesterol, High Triglycerides Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But if you have too much in your blood, it can stick to the walls of your arteries. This is called plaque. Plaque can narrow your arteries or even block them.
Know your total cholesterol, your LDL (lousy or bad) cholesterol and your HDL (good cholesterol). Total cholesterol needs to be below 200 mg/dL.
HDL (good) cholesterol should be above 60 mg/dL. (In the average woman, they range from 50 to 60 mg/dL. An HDL cholesterol of 60 mg/dL or higher gives some protection against heart disease.)
LDL (lousy or bad) cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dL.
Triglycerides should be less than 150 mg/dL.
Triglycerides are a type of fat in the bloodstream and fat tissue. Too much of this type of fat can contribute to the hardening and narrowing of your arteries. This puts you at risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Tomorrow we’ll pick up on the list of nine things you can do to decrease your risk of heart disease. In the meantime, if you were a smoker and were able to quit, how did you do it? Did you go to a support group? Did you use an aid, such as a patch, to help you quit? Did you use a “quit smoking app?” Was it helpful? Please share your stories with us in the comment section below.