Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How Healthy is your Heart?

Despite the best efforts of western medicine to combat the problem, heart disease remains the number one killer in the United States. It is the leading cause of death in both men and women.  Stroke comes in third, after cancer. Stroke is also the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.

These are alarming statistics. Together, heart disease and stroke have a devastating effect, striking a huge segment of the population when they are still in their prime of life.

Even those who survive a heart attack or stroke may find their quality of life suffers, with an associated loss of income or productivity, along with the exorbitant costs of life-saving treatments or long-term medications.

As a society, we used to think of heart disease and stroke as a man’s disease. But that is no longer true. Heart disease and stroke are equal opportunity predators. While breast and other cancers may get more attention in the media, the truth is that women are five times more likely to die of a heart attack than breast cancer. The American Heart Association reports that one in five women in the U.S. has some form of heart disease.

After menopause – either natural or due to a hysterectomy, that risk increases. Menopausal women are two to three times more likely to develop heart disease than younger, pre-menopausal women.

What can we do to reduce our risk? A healthy lifestyle that includes not smoking, some form of stress reduction, eating a low-fat diet high in fruits and vegetables, and at least 20 minutes of exercise three times a week is critical.

But we also know that hormones play a major role in our cardiovascular health and well being.

For women, estrogen’s positive effect on every tissue in the body is well documented. But you may not be aware that estrogen also increases HDL, the good cholesterol, while decreasing LDL, the bad cholesterol. In addition, estrogen helps keep the blood vessels dilated and the lining of the walls smooth, so blood can flow more easily, promoting good circulation. Some studies show estrogen may also reduce free radicals in the blood so they have less change of doing damage to the blood vessels.

The same situation is present for men. Not surprisingly, testosterone is good for the heart, the blood vessels and cholesterol levels. Adequate levels of testosterone have been shown to improve HDL, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation of blood vessel walls, improve heart function and promote heart muscle protein synthesis.

The key to remember is this: heart disease and stroke are preventable. Even though you may not be able to eliminate certain risk factors such as family history and ethnic background (African-Americans are at higher risk), it is possible to gain the upper hand over these two widely prevalent medical conditions.

The goal for everyone should be to develop good lifestyle habits in combination with a medically prescribed plan for supplementing or replacing hormone loss. Careful attention to diet, exercise, hormones and stress will lead to the best plan of attack for reducing the risk and severity of both heart disease and stroke.

At Southwest Age Intervention Institute, we offer the most advanced age management therapies coupled with the education and statistical analysis to help you feel great at every age. We will access not only your hormone levels but every factor associated with helping you age well and enjoy your life to the fullest as it pertains to achieving the correct balances. You simply need to call to schedule your executive health evaluation with our expert team of age management specialists and started enjoying better heart health now.

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