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NEWS | Feb. 21, 2012

Tips to keep your heart healthy

By Airman 1st Class Austin Harvill 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

February is the month of love, so why not keep your heart beating? In addition to honoring romance, February is dedicated to raising cardiovascular disease awareness by USAF Hospital Langley.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Roseanna Edwardo, a clinical nurse with the 633rd Medical Group, is educating service members and dependents on how to stay healthy to prevent CVD.
"This is the number one killer in America," said Edwardo. "Heart disease is an equal opportunity killer. It can happen to anyone and everyone."
CVD covers a plethora of heart conditions, including angina pectoris, high blood pressure, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, congenital heart defects and more, she explained.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 23 percent of women and 18 percent of men will die within one year of their first heart attack, and those percentages only increase as time goes on. Up to 32 percent of women and 27 percent of men will die within the first five years of a heart attack.

There are numerous ways to avoid these conditions. Edwardo said the three biggest factors in a healthy lifestyle are stress management, exercise and a good diet. Also, it is important to consult with a doctor to figure out individual needs to prevent CVD. Edwardo said the following steps can help anyone improve their health.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the hardest and most important things to do in our society today. By replacing fattening snack foods with a fruit alternative, a significant difference can be made in the chest cavity.
  • The average American does not eat enough fruits and vegetables during the day. By adding fruits and veggies to a diet, cholesterol levels drop and energy levels increase. In addition, the fiber in these foods is filling.
  • Eating a healthy diet reduces stress. Stress management is an undermined aspect of health in today's busy lifestyle. Organizing a schedule, staying on top of finances and changing perceptions are also easy ways to reduce stress and prevent hypertension.
  • Avoid smoking as a stress reducer. Smokers are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than non-smokers, according to the USDHHS.
  • Exercise is the keystone of a healthy lifestyle. It is highly recommended to incorporate 30 minutes of exercise each day. Edwardo recommends breaking an exercise up into small ten minute intervals throughout the day.
  • Finally, consulting a doctor to find specifics can make the process of getting and staying healthy much easier. Everyone is unique, and the best way to stay healthy changes from person to person.
"Most people think their doctor will keep them healthy, and that isn't the case," said Edwardo. "Every person has to take the initiative to talk to a physician to get healthy."

"Denial is death," said Edwardo, adding that patients who suffer from CVD should be cautious. "Always check in with a professional if any symptoms of CVD show up, no matter what."

For more information about CVD, contact USAF Hospital Langley's Disease Management section at 225-6570.