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Healthy Heart
Drs Neal Barry and Nicole Barry

Heart disease may be the leading cause of death for both men and women, but that doesn't mean you have to accept it as your fate. Although you lack the power to change some risk factors — such as family history, age and race — there are some key heart disease prevention steps you can take.

Ways to stay healthy:

Get Adjusted
Multiple studies have shown that your blood pressure drops following an adjustment. One such study is: Effects of chiropractic treatment on blood pressure and anxiety, published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1988 (Dec);11 (6): 484-488.  It revealed that both systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly in the adjusted group.

Regular Exercise
Even short bouts add up. Since your heart is a muscle, we need to stress it with cardiovascular exercise regularly.

Regular physical activity helps prevent heart disease by increasing blood flow to your heart and strengthening your heart's contractions so that your heart pumps more blood with less effort. Physical activity also helps you control your weight and can reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. It also reduces stress, which may also be a factor in heart disease.

Federal guidelines recommend that you get at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity most days of the week. However, even shorter amounts offer heart benefits, so if you can't meet those guidelines, don't give up. And remember that things like gardening, housekeeping, taking the stairs and walking the dog all count toward your total. You don't have to exercise strenuously to achieve benefits, but you can see bigger benefits by increasing the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts.

Healthy Diet
Consistently eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products can help protect your heart. Legumes, low-fat sources of protein and certain types of fish also can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Limiting your intake of certain fats also is important. Of the types of fat — saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fat — saturated fat and trans fat increase the risk of coronary artery disease by raising blood cholesterol levels. Major sources of saturated fat include beef, butter, cheese, milk, and coconut and palm oils. There's growing evidence that trans fat may be worse than saturated fat because unlike saturated fat, it both raises your LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers your HDL (good) cholesterol. Sources of trans fat include deep-fried fast foods, bakery products, packaged snack foods, margarines and crackers.

Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat, may decrease your risk of heart attack, protect against irregular heartbeats and lower blood pressure. Some fish are a good natural source of omega-3s. However, pregnant women and women of childbearing age should avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish because they contain levels of mercury high enough to pose a danger to a developing fetus. But for most others, the health benefits of fish outweigh any risks associated with mercury. Omega-3s are present in smaller amounts in flaxseed oil, walnut oil, soybean oil and canola oil, and they can also be found in supplements.

Following a heart-healthy diet also means drinking alcohol only in moderation — no more than two drinks a day for men, one a day for women. At that moderate level, alcohol can have a protective effect on your heart. Above that, it becomes a health hazard.

Keep Weight Off
Believe it or not being just 5 pounds over weight makes your heart work exponentially harder.

Watch Your Cholesterol
Get your cholesterol as well as your C-reactive protein checked by a blood test at least every five years, or more often if heart disease runs in your family.

Healthy Gums = Healthy Heart
Regular brushing and dental checkups are necessary to keep the bacteria in your mouth at bay and prevent an infection elsewhere in the body.

Just say No- To Smoking and Drugs.
Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,800 chemicals. Many of these can damage your heart and blood vessels, making them more vulnerable to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis can ultimately lead to a heart attack.

The good news, though, is that when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops dramatically within just one year. And no matter how long or how much you smoked, you'll start reaping rewards as soon as you quit.

If you would like help maximizing your heart health, please call and make an appointment with Dr. Barry or Dr. Nicole Barry. We provide our patient’s with a complimentary dietary analysis.

In This Issue:
Healthy Heart
Dr. Nicole's Corner: Trying To Conceive?
Recipe: Chicken Chili

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