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Simple seven heart health guidelines

By Guest Columnist Stephanie Duguid

As part of the Mississippi Health Ambassador Initiative, Dr. Trey Clark from the University of Mississippi Medical Center sheds light on the critical importance of heart health through Heart Healthy 101’s “Life’s Simple 7


Cardiovascular disease strikes hard and fast, claiming a life every 36 seconds nationwide.  Shockingly, 1 in 4 deaths in Mississippi is attributed to this silent killer, highlighting the urgent need for proactive measures to safeguard our communities.


 “Life’s Simple 7” -- a comprehensive guide endorsed by health professionals worldwide -- encompasses seven pillars, each integral to a heart-healthy lifestyle, that are beacons of hope in the fight against heart disease:


1. Manage Blood Pressure: Keeping blood pressure within a healthy range (typically below 120/80 mm Hg) is crucial for preventing heart attacks and strokes. Simple lifestyle changes like reducing salt intake, exercising regularly, and managing stress can make a significant difference.


2.  Control Cholesterol: High LDL cholesterol levels can clog arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. Monitoring cholesterol levels through regular check-ups and adopting a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while limiting saturated and trans fats, can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.


3. Reduce Blood Sugar:  Elevated blood sugar levels not only increase the risk of diabetes but also contribute to heart disease. Monitoring blood sugar levels, staying physically active, and consuming a balanced diet low in added sugars can help prevent complications related to high blood sugar.


4. Get Active: Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy heart. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week, along with muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week.


5. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through balanced nutrition, regular exercise and adequate sleep is crucial for reducing the burden on the heart.


6. Eat Healthy:  A heart-healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats while limiting processed foods, sugary beverages, and excessive salt intake. Small  \dietary changes over time can lead to significant improvements in heart health.


7. Stop Smoking:  Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for heart disease. Quitting smoking is one of the best things individuals can do to improve their heart health and overall well-being. Support resources and cessation programs are available to help individuals kick the habit for good.


The essence of Heart Health 101 lies in knowing your numbers.  Regular check-ups and screenings empower individuals to track their progress and make informed decisions about their health.  However, while the concept may be simple, the execution is anything but easy. It requires dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to sustainable lifestyle changes.  “Life’s Simple 7.”


Contrary to popular belief, our genetic makeup doesn’t dictate our destiny. We hold the reins on our health, capable of steering it in the right direction with the right choices.  Motivation is our compass on this journey, guiding us through the ups and downs with unwavering resolve.  Remember, it’s not an all-or-none scenario.  Every step, no matter how small, contributes to the greater goal of optimal heart health. Sustainability is key, emphasizing the importance of building habits that stand the test of time.


As we navigate the complexities of modern life, let us not forget the beating heart at the center of it all. With Heart Health 101 as our roadmap, we embark on a journey of self-discovery, empowerment, and resilience.  Together, let us rewrite the narrative of cardiovascular disease in Mississippi, one healthy heart at a time.


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Stephanie Duguid is owner of Do Good ProHealth (CPR Classes) and Do Good Leadership (motivational speaking, and leadership and success coaching).


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