Men’s Health Reveals 5 New Rules For a Healthy Heart
According to a new study from Northwester University, 60% of young adults who ate right, worked out, kept their BMIs in check, avoided smoking and went easy on the booze kept their heart-disease risk low well into middle age.
Of people who ignored these basics, less than 5 percent stayed in the low-risk category. The March issue of Men’s Health highlights key developments in cardio science to help your blood flow better than ever:
Starting Point: Estimate your risk—Researchers have begun to predict heart-disease risk by manipulating key numbers in the Framingham Heart Model: age, blood pressure, cholesterol, among others. It’s important to know your estimated risk.
New rule: Broaden the equation— This equation doesn’t consider family history, lifestyle or body mass index. Be sure you and your doctor have fully analyzed your family history and any bad habits you have, such as smoking or excessive drinking.
Starting point: Train with intervals—Intervals boost your heart’s stroke volume as well as its efficiency. After training with intervals, researchers saw an average improvement of 23 percent in stroke volume and a 17 percent increase in VO2 max. Someone with a higher VO2 max tends to have a lower risk for metabolic and heart disease.
New rule: Throw your weights around too— You can snare additional heart benefits by incorporating resistance training into your routine. In the weight room, go for circuit training, during which you alternate between different muscle groups with minimal rest between them.
Starting point: Cut cholesterol with fiber—Oatmeal, barely and psyllium are rich sources of soluble fiber, which can help reduce your cholesterol.
New rule: Add tomatoes—Tomato juice is rich in lycopene, a nutrient that may cut your body’s production of LDL cholesterol.
Starting point: Watch your stress—Researches measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol in hair samples from 56 men who’d been hospitalized for heart attacks and from 56 men hospitalized for other reasons. Heart-attack victims had cortisol levels were a third higher than the other group.
New rule: Banish the blues as well—Stress can kill, but so can depression. People who took SSRIs, a class of antidepressants, showed improved bloodflow as a result of slower platelet clumping, according to a 2010 study from Loyola University medical center.
Starting point: Go for a blood test— Prescription statins are the gold standard for reducing cholesterol. A British Medical Journal study found statins can lower the chance of having a heart attack by as much as 30 percent.
New rule: Also consider a CT scan—A CT scan can take the guesswork out of diagnosing atheroscelerosis by allowing your doctor to see firsthand whether arterial buildup is a problem.