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Feature: Let us have a heart-to-heart talk!

by CC Tanchoco

Legazpi City (5 June) -- The heart and blood vessels make up your circulatory system. Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood through the body.

The heart pumps blood carrying oxygen to large blood vessels called arteries and small blood vessels called capillaries. Other blood vessels called veins carry blood back to the heart.

When cholesterol is too high, the insides of large blood vessels become narrowed or clogged. This problem is called atherosclerosis.

Narrowed and clogged vessels make it harder for enough blood to get to all parts of your body. Narrowed blood vessels leave a smaller opening for blood to flow through.

Having narrowed blood vessels is like turning on a garden hose and holding your thumb over the opening. The smaller opening makes the water to shoot out with more pressure. Other factors, such as kidney problems and being overweight also can lead to high blood pressure.

You may control your blood pressure by eating more fruits and vegetables, eating low-salt and low-sodium foods, losing weight if you need to, being physically active, not smoking, and limiting alcoholic drinks.

Heart and blood vessel disease can lead to heart attacks and strokes. You can do a lot to prevent heart disease and stroke by:

1. Keeping your blood glucose under control. Have an A1C test twice a year. The A1C test measures the average blood glucose level for the past two to three months. The higher the level of glucose in the blood, the higher the A1C result will be. For most people with diabetes, an A1C goal of less than 7 is recommended. Reaching the goal is important since very 1 per cent increase above this A1C result raises the risk of diabetes-related complications. Should blood glucose levels rise above this goal, a change of medicines or a review of the treatment plan is needed.

2. Keeping your blood pressure under control. Below 130/80 is the target for most people.

3. Keeping your cholesterol under control. Have it checked at least once a year. The target for most people for Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol is below 100, High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol should be above 40 for men and above 50 for women. Triglycerides should be below 150.

4. Making physical activity a part of your daily routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Check with the doctor to learn what activities that are best for you.

5. Making sure the foods you eat are "heart healthy". Include foods with high fiber such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, and oats. Cut back on meats, butter, and dairy products. Limit foods with trans fat such as potato chips.

6. Losing weight if you need to. If you are overweight, try to exercise most days of the week. Consult a registered dietician for help in planning meals and lowering the fat and calorie content of your diet to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

7. If you smoke, quit.

8. Check if you need to take an aspirin. Studies have shown that low dose of aspirin everyday can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

9. Take your medicines as directed.

For more information on food and nutrition, write or call: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguid City; Te/Fax Nos.: 837-2934 and 837-3164; email:,; FNRI-DOST website: (FNRI-DOST /PIA) [top]

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