Better physical health is one of the most common goals people set each year. Find out how your thyroid is in the driver's seat with everything from your metabolism to the speed of your brain, heart, muscles, and liver functions.
In 1736, Benjamin Franklin famously told his fellow Philadelphians who were under the threat of fire that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This sound advice can be applied to nearly any situation.
Wearing a helmet is easier than dealing with the repercussions of a concussion. Driving the speed limit is less expensive than paying for a speeding ticket. Wearing sunscreen is easier than suffering through the effects of a bad sunburn.
While nobody wants bad things to happen, people are often willing to roll the dice, taking the risk that while something bad might happen, it probably won’t, which is all good and fine until the potential risk becomes a reality.
Millions of people, across all age sectors, gamble with their heart health every day. As a 20-something, heart health can seem to be an “old” person problem. However, like many things in life, small deposits now can make a big difference later. Think of it like compounding interest; the earlier in life a person starts saving money, the more earning potential that money has. Heart health is the same way. The things a person does now can help in both the short- and long-term. While it is best to start early, it is never too late to start.
Regular exercise can provide multiple positive effects, such as lower blood pressure, reduced risk of diabetes, and a healthier body weight. Additionally, exercise takes some of the burden off the heart by improving the muscles’ ability to pull oxygen out of the blood, reducing the need for the heart to pump more blood to the muscles.
In conjunction with the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Heart Association recommends combining aerobic exercises, such as swimming, biking, and jogging, with resistance training for optimal benefit. The next question becomes, how often should a person do these exercises? Ideally, aerobic exercise should last for 30 minutes a day and be done at least five days a week. Resistance training at least two nonconsecutive days per week will give your body the best chance at reducing fat and creating leaner muscle mass.
Stress is normal. It is a byproduct of everyday living. However, stress can trigger heart problems like poor blood flow to the heart, leading to the heart being deprived of enough blood or oxygen. Furthermore, if stress is not managed, it can also affect how the blood clots, making the blood stickier and increasing the likelihood of a stroke. Knowing this, it is important to find ways to reduce daily stress. The following list should help kickstart a few ideas:
Weight management is about more than just avoiding fast food and exercising more. Calorie deficits help with weight loss, but a heart healthy diet incorporates more high-quality foods and utilizes appropriate serving sizes. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following for a heart-healthy diet:
According to the American College of Cardiology, heart disease accounts for roughly 125,000 preventable deaths each year, with many of those deaths tied to patients neglecting to take life-saving medication.
IPM works diligently to ensure its formularies provide life-saving medicines. For example, it is important that newly diagnosed diabetic patients take metformin consistently to help slow down the advance of the disease; taking insulin may be an important therapy to maintain hemoglobin A1c levels within a safe range. A class of drugs called “statins” are instrumental in lowering cholesterol levels which reduces the development of cardiovascular disease. There are many medicines available for the treatment of hypertension and most of them are available as low-cost generic medications.
With a network of more than 67,000 pharmacies nationwide and the availability of mail order refills, members are able to access life-saving medications wherever they live. With 47% of Americans having at least 1 of 3 key risk factors for heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoking), heart health should be top of mind.
It is never too early to start making small changes which will have lasting impacts.