There are a set of behaviors that have been known to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart related issues such as heart attack and heart disease. They are known as “Life’s Simple 7”, you are likely familiar with them; No Smoking, Eat Healthy, Get Active, Lose Weight, Manage Blood Pressure, Control Cholesterol, and Reduce Blood Sugar. These tips have been supported by the American Heart Association for some time. But there was a new study done that has shown even greater health benefits than just for your heart.
Researchers at Ohio State University College of Medicine studied the health of 7,758 participants from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study from 2003-2007. The participants had a mean age of 63. Baseline cholesterol, blood pressure, diet, smoking, physical activity, and BMI were used to categorize participants based on the number of ideal cardiovascular health components.
They found that participants with normal fasting glucose who practiced two to three of the AHA recommended behaviors had a 36 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes and that participants with at least four of the behaviors had an 80 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
So what are these tips that can no only improve your heart health but also lower your risk of type 2 diabetes? Here is a closer look at Life’s Simple 7 from the AMA:
Manage Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.
High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages.
Reduce Blood Sugar
Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.
Living an active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life.
A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy – for life!
When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. You give yourself the gift of active living, you lower your blood pressure and you help yourself feel better, too.
Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.
These tips are general health advice and should not be considered on the same level as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietitian before any major changes to your fitness regimen or diet. If you would like more information on “Life’s Simple 7” you can find it at the American Heart Association website heart.org