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Staying Heart Healthy

by Alwa Cooper

Are you at risk for heart disease? Everyone has some risk of eventually developing heart disease, but for some the risk is higher than for others. People with diabetes, for example, have a two to four times higher risk of developing heart or blood vessel disease than people who don’t have diabetes. But even with diabetes, the risks can be lowered, and these resources can help you do it.

First, check out one of the risk assessment tools to see how high your risk is. Then read through the list of books, periodicals, and online resources to select what might be most helpful to you. There’s a lot you can learn and do on your own, but don’t forget to enlist the help of your diabetes care providers as you take charge of your cardiovascular health.

Risk assessment tools
This tool estimates a person’s 10-year risk of having a heart attack using information from the Framingham Heart Study, a large, long-term study of heart health. You supply your age, gender, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol, systolic blood pressure (the first number of your blood pressure reading), and whether or not you are a smoker to calculate your risk.

This tool ranks a person’s fitness based on answers to questions about a group of goals — Get Active, Control Cholesterol, Eat Better, Manage Blood Pressure, Lose Weight, Reduce Blood Sugar, and Stop Smoking — that the American Heart Association calls the “simple seven.” The Web site’s risk assessment tool identifies trouble spots, and offers a Simple 7 Action Plan for improvement in those areas.

Strategies for a Healthy Heart
Thomas H. Lee, MD, and Harvey B. Simon, MD
Harvard Medical School
Boston, 2009
This book aims to clarify often-confusing advice about how to prevent heart disease — and how those who already have the condition can best treat it — by identifying the risk factors you can control. The book can also be ordered as an electronic PDF file at the Harvard Health Publications Web site, www.health.harvard.edu.

Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, Bonnie Sanders Polin, PhD, and Frances Towner Giedt
Clarkson Potter
New York, 2007
This cookbook offers over 150 recipes, low in sugar and saturated fat and high in fiber and lean protein, designed to help prevent heart disease. The authors have developed three different eating plans, and provide a week’s worth of recipes for each one. The book also includes tips on everyday concerns such as eating out at restaurants and choosing heart-healthy proteins.

Sheldon G. Steps, MD
Mayo Clinic Health Solutions
Rochester, Minnesota, 2008
This book describes the symptoms and causes of high blood pressure and presents the authors’s five-step plan to control it. It also offers such heart-related information as how to recognize a heart emergency and how heart health affects other chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

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Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



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