Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Thoughts on a Healthy Lifestyle

I read about an interesting study done recently that looked at sudden cardiac death in women and lifestyle factors associated with risk reduction.  Sounds kind of boring, I'll admit, but the gist of the article is that a healthy lifestyle significantly reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death in women.  This is important, because for everything we know about cardiac disease in men, the disease often manifests differently in women.  Sudden cardiac death may be the first indication of underlying cardiac disease in some women.  So I'm all about preventing it.

Four lifestyle factors in particular were found to have the greatest risk reduction, and they shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

  • Not smoking - kind of a no-brainer.  I've never been a smoker, and I'm very glad of that.  I have so many patients who want to quit smoking and just can't; it makes me sad for them.  The decline in lung function and subsequent functionality is a tough consequence for people to understand, especially early on, when they don't feel poorly.  It's not until significant lung function has been lost before people start to become symptomatic.  
  • BMI <25.  I'm still working on this one.  I've struggled with my weight my entire life, but at least I'm headed in the right direction at this point.  I haven't hit the magic number yet, but I'm hopeful that in the next year or so, I'll be where I want to be.  Maintaining it is a whole other story, but one step at a time...
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes per day.  I meet this goal on more days than not.  I generally exercise in the morning when I first get up.  Some weeks are better than others, but in general I try to be a fairly active person.  Even if I'm not running or something like that, I like to be out in my garden pulling weeds and such.  I make it a point to go up and down the stairs in my house multiple times per day.  
  • Eat a healthy diet - defined as high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy oils, and moderate in alcohol.  Yep, this one I've got covered.  In spite of my problems with my weight, I don't eat poorly on the whole.  I'll have a cheesy poof here and there at a party, and I do indulge in sweet desserts from time to time, but my daily diet always includes at least 5 fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and some kind of whole grain.  I eat mainly lean proteins and fish.  I do drink wine, but it doesn't get out of hand.  
I felt pretty good about my risk of sudden cardiac death after evaluating the lifestyle factors.  There's room for improvement for sure - I need to work on getting in more dedicated exercise, and I'm still working on getting my BMI down to where it should be, but overall, I think I'm doing the right things for my health.  And that makes me feel good.  

No comments: