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A Message from Dr. Stephen Kindred – Assistant Vice President, Corporate Medical.
Eating right, exercising and routinely visiting with your doctor are key elements to living a heart-healthy life. According to the American Heart Association, someone will experience a heart-related issue every twenty-five seconds and every minute someone will die from one, thus making heart disease the leading cause of death in the United States. The good news is that cardiovascular disease (CVD) does not develop overnight. If you act now, you can help build a healthier heart.
Cardiovascular disease is a term used to describe disorders that affect your heart and/or your body’s system of blood vessels. It reflects conditions that develop or persist over a long period of time. However, some of the outcomes of CVD may be acute events such as heart attacks and strokes that occur suddenly when a vessel supplying blood to the heart or brain becomes blocked.
Due to its prevalence, I make it a mission to educate my patients about CVD. I explain that the chance of developing it can be greatly reduced, as many of the risk factors are controllable. These include:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Being overweight
- Tobacco use
- Lack of exercise
Your overall health condition, age, sex, family medical history, and lifestyle habits all play a role in your risk for heart and vascular diseases. Many of these risk factors are interrelated. Some, like family history and age, cannot be controlled, but many can if you put your heart into it!
Pam, Automation Specialist in the CLC Corporate Law department, took control in April 2010. At that time, she was at risk for developing CVD due to controllable risk factors. She ate poorly, did not exercise and had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. She realized she had gained more than 60 pounds since joining State Farm and it was time to do something about it. Pam wanted to be around to watch her grandchildren grow up, so she decided to make a lifestyle change.
“At the time, I was on two prescriptions for high blood pressure. I looked awful and felt even worse,” Pam explained. She started attending Weight Watchers and exercising five to six times a week. Pam purchased a Treadclimber® cardio machine, some gym equipment and added a television and an air conditioner to her garage. Now, instead of watching TV on the sofa while eating junk food, she watches from her cardio machine.
“Since changing my lifestyle, I have done away with all of my ‘big girl clothes’ and purchased new ones,” said Pam. “I feel better and look better. And with my doctor’s permission, I am no longer taking one of my blood pressure medications! I am finally at a healthy weight and my blood pressure and cholesterol are back to normal.” To date, she has lost 42.6 pounds and continues to lose more.
Pump Up Your Heart with Prevention
A healthy diet and active lifestyle are the best tools you have to prevent heart disease. As you make daily food choices, base your eating plan on these recommendations:
- Choose lean meats and poultry without skin
- Select fat-free, 1% fat and low-fat dairy products
- Reduce trans fat in your diet
- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars
- Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation
- Keep an eye on your portion sizes
Physical activity in your daily life is also an important step to preventing heart disease. Like Pam, you too can take a few simple steps at home to increase the amount of physical activity in your life. Remember to record your activity and track your progress along the way.
And be sure to take advantage of the Preventive Care Benefits offered by your health plan. Both the Group Medical PPO Plan and company offered HMOs valuable preventive services with no out-of-pocket expense to you. For information on eligibility for preventive screening benefits, call the State Farm Human Resources Services Center (HRSC) at 1-877-272-1999. Canadian retirees may also call the Canadian Group Insurance Department at 1-905-750-4827.
Give it your all by taking control of your heart health! Empowering you to Live Well, Be Well, eat well and play well.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recognizes February as Heart Health Month.
Use the AHA’s sodium & fat explorer tool to learn how to reduce your sodium & fat intake.
Learn how to make heart healthy goals and lose weight.
Your heart health is dependent upon exercise, so get moving with the help of the AHA.
Good nutrition is at the heart of your health. Learn how to eat heart healthy.