Prevention with Lifestyle Intervention – PART III
Follow ‘Life’s simple 7’
Since none of us can escape the consequences of aging with its attendant risks of chronic diseases and loss of body functions, it seems reasonable to develop strategies to prevent or delay the onslaught of these problems. Can you believe that as early as 400 BC, the famous Greek physician Hippocrates said, “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” And yet we don’t pay much attention to these correctible factors that will aid a long healthy life. It’s often said that “the best medicine we’re not using is actually ‘Lifestyle Intervention.’ ” So, now it’s up to us to pay proper attention to the deficiencies in our life style.
What are the ideal health metrics?
That’s the question everybody should ask. American Heart association has set out seven ideal health metrics that we need to follow to achieve the best health. These are called “Life’s simple 7” and include the following.
- Healthy diet: we have already discussed this in detail.
- Physical activity: What’s the best medicine that can help you to decrease or prevent some of the chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart attacks, high cholesterol, etc., and could even extend your life? “This wonder drug isn’t a drug at all, of course, it is exercise!” says Harvard Health News. Unfortunately, most of us are exercise averse, preferring to sit in front of TV or computers or pursuing some other sedentary activities. So, be physically active as much as possible, doing whatever exercises you like and likely to stick with on a long-term basis. Moderate-intensity activity of ≥150 min/week or vigorous-intensity activity of ≥75 min/week or combination of these two is what American Heart Association recommends.
- Blood Pressure (BP) control: The ideal BP for an adult should be <120/ <80. A systolic BP of 120-139 mm Hg and/or diastolic BP of 80-89 is thought to be pre-hypertension while a SBP ≥140 mmHg and/or DBP ≥90 mmHg is definite hypertension that can increase your risk for cardiovascular events. Keep it as close to normal as possible and discuss with your doctor. Shake the salt habit, exercise regularly, watch your weight and sleep tight at night.
- Maintain Normal Cholesterol: Every high risk person should be aware of the fundamentals of hyperlipidemia and optimal lipid lowering therapy. While the general recommendation is to keep your total cholesterol <200 and LDL (bad cholesterol) <100, for people with high risk both these parameters should be much lower to the extent that the high risk patients (like those who already had a cardiac event) should keep their LDL as low as possible preferably <55!
- Prevent, delay or control diabetes. Diabetes has become almost a pandemic now in the world and may be one of the major causes of mortality. You already know that with proper diet (especially reducing the carbs like high glycemic sugar, sweets, white rice, etc.) and regular exercise, one may be able to prevent or at least delay the onset of diabetes. Once diagnosed, take active steps to control it well. Keep these figures for fasting blood sugars (mg/dL) in mind: Normal < 100, Pre-Diabetes 100 – 125, Diabetes >125.
- Healthy weight: Obesity and overweight have become all too common and the perils of obesity such as high BP, diabetes, heart disease and cancer – the most serious of them are well known to you. Here is the rundown on the numbers on Body Mass Index (BMI – kg/m2): Normal <25, Overweight 25-29.9, Obesity >30.
- No smoking: Tobacco use in any form is detrimental to the body, so stop it if you are already a user and don’t start if you are not a smoker. Cardiologists and cancer specialists believe that if we can put an end to cigarette smoking in this country, nearly 50 percent of the cancer and heart attacks could be prevented. Think about that for a moment.
So, make a new life resolution to follow these 7 simple measures and build a healthy happy life for you and your loved ones.
* This concludes our series. For further reading, visit AHA website: www.heart.org