The month of December is a good time to start looking forward to the new year and thinking about getting “back on the wagon” when it comes to eating healthy and exercising. The holiday months are full of decadent food (which is why we love them!) and it’s easy to allow ourselves that one extra cookie at every holiday party we attend, but it’s important to try and make heart healthy decisions when possible.
The Director of Preventive Cardiology Program at Saint Joseph’s Hospital Atlanta, Basil Margolis, MD, offers tips that we can all use to help maintain a more heart healthy lifestyle:
1) Know Your Risk—We all know that diet and exercise are important components to keeping our heart healthy, and today, knowing your risk goes beyond simply breaking down cholesterol into “good” (HDL) and “bad” (LDL) camps. Ask your doctor for an advanced lipid profile which measures sub-fractions of cholesterol and provides a much better indication of your true cardiac risk.
2) Knowledge is Power—know and understand your risk when it comes to having a family history of heart attacks. We now have access to several genetic screening tests that can tell us if you are genetically predisposed to suffering an early heart attack and, if so, what particular cardiac medications will work best for you in preventing this from happening.
3) Take Action—Most of us know that a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and a poor diet are bad for our health but the hardest part is breaking those habits and making the changes necessary to live a healthy lifestyle. Enroll in your company’s corporate wellness program or join a weight loss challenge. Creating a system of accountability and creating goals will help you become a success in your own life
In addition to these tips, here is a helpful breakdown of what to look for when reading food labels (click on chart to view larger image):