A Healthy Heart by Travis Walters, M.D.

It’s February and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. What better time than Valentine’s Day to think about heart health? Do you need to make any lifestyle changes?
Check out this article by Travis Walters, M.D.

Did you know that the number-one killer of American women is not cancer like many women think? It is actually heart disease!

Woman_Eating.jpgWhy Heart Health Is Important
As
parents take care of their newborns, most quickly realize that if they
are not healthy themselves, their babies cannot receive the best care.
If mothers are not physically, mentally, and emotionally energized,
care and decision-making for their newborn will suffer. But it does
not
stop there. As children grow, they require guidance to help equip them
for the “real world.” This necessitates parents with healthy
lifestyles. Kids learn from parents every day and emulate the actions
they see.

Take Stock
What can you do to improve your influence on your child? You can make some important lifestyle choices.

  • Control your blood pressure. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure is considered 140/90 mmHg and above.
  • Control blood cholesterol. Have your total cholesterol checked at least once every five years, along with a lipoprotein profile which shows a more specific breakdown of your total cholesterol.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Control diabetes. Aiming for a hemoglobin A1C less than 7 percent reduces the risks from diabetes.
  • Sustain a healthy weight. Target a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9.
  • Exercise regularly. Strive for at least 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, four to six days per week.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Keep fat calories to less than 30 percent of your total calories and avoid saturated fats. A diet that contains a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, poultry, and lean meat is best.

By making these changes, you not only will improve your own health, but you also will become a healthy role model for your child.

Recommended Resource
The American Heart Association’s Food Certification Program helps you easily and reliably find heart-healthy foods that are certified by the AHA.

Travis Walters, M.D., is a pediatrician at Green Hills Pediatric Associates in Nashville, Tennessee. Travis and his wife, Rebecca, have two children, Olivia and Caroline, and are expecting their third in June.

**This article was originally scheduled to run in our February 2009 issue of ParentLife. If you would like to see more information, this pdf (HeartHealth.pdf) provides the article in its entirety.**

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