Special to GUIDON
The health issues that contribute to heart disease, and heart disease itself, can, and do, happen at any age.
Some risk factors of heart disease (high blood pressure and obesity) are occurring at younger ages, leading to the development of heart disease earlier in life.
Other contributing factors of heart disease include smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets (high sodium, high fat, high sugar).
The good news is that heart disease can often be prevented by making healthy lifestyle choices and managing health conditions appropriately.
Approximately half of the people with high blood pressure do not have it under control. Uncontrolled blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions, such as stroke. Always follow your health care provider’s advice, and take any prescribed medication to manage conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
For anyone looking for support, here are some answers:
Army Wellness Center
AWC staff can measure fitness and lifestyle indicators, such as blood pressure, body fat percentage and cardiovascular fitness, as well as offer individual advice on how to improve these indicators, if needed.
Each month, they also provide classes on topics such as nutrition, fitness and stress management. For more information, call the AWC at 573.596.9677. The AWC is open to all active-duty service members and their dependants, retirees, Reserve, National Guard and Department of the Army/Department of Defense civilians.
The Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation fitness centers are another great resource to help support a healthy lifestyle. They offer various fitness amenities, such as weights, multi-activity courts and specialized fitness rooms. They can be accessed with any DoD ID card.
Getting into a routine of being physically active can be hard, especially if it is new. However, a great way to get motivated is to train with a partner or join a group session.
Davidson Fitness Center offers a large variety of classes, and the schedule is published every month. Personal trainers are also available upon request. The advantage of having a personal trainer is that the workouts are personalized.
Before embarking on this, obtain a medical release from a health care professional. Call or stop by an FMWR gym to enquire about personal training. For more information, call Davidson Fitness Center at 573.596.4359 or Specker Gym at 573.596.7377.
Quitting tobacco and nicotine is the best thing anyone can do to improve their health. Quitting can reduce the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, lung disease and other illnesses.
Public Health Nursing provides monthly Tobacco/Nicotine Cessation Classes on the first Tuesday of each month at GLWACH.
A pharmacist is available after each session to prescribe cessation medications. To sign up for one of these classes, call the Public Health Nursing Clinic at 573.596.0518.
A healthy heart begins with making healthy food. Eating healthy for your heart does not have to be hard. Start with choosing whole-grains, like bulgur, oatmeal and whole wheat flour, which are packed with soluble fiber and B-vitamins.
The goal is to make at least half of the grains whole grains. Aim to eat non-starchy vegetables and fruits and choose lean sources of proteins and dairy.
Incorporate unsaturated fats, particularly omega-3s, as heart healthy choices. Food sources of omega-3s are fish, walnuts and flax seeds.
Monitoring portion sizes and sodium levels are also important. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommends limiting sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams daily for most healthy Americans.
Lower intakes of processed foods high in refined grains, saturated fats and foods high in sodium.
Individualized nutrition guidance by a registered dietitian is available to all active-duty service members, retirees and dependents. No referral is needed. To make an appointment, call the Nutrition Care Division at 573.596.1762.
The GLWACH Nutrition Care Division will host a “Lunch ‘n’ Learn” class on heart healthy nutrition at noon Feb. 13 in the primary care conference room, located in the hospital. All Tricare beneficiaries are welcome to attend. Those interested are reminded to bring their lunch.
(Editor’s note: This article was written by Haleigh Gray, marketing assistant at Texas County Technical College, Jill Hardwick, a volunteer with GLWACH’s Department of Preventive Medicine, and 1st Lt. Dana Larsen, chief of the Nutrition Care Division.)