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Heart Healthy

1. Don’t smoke

2. Lose weight (if overweight)

3. Get regular exercise

4. Eat vegetables.

Heart failure is a chronic condition where the heart muscle grows weaker until it is no longer able to pump enough blood to meet body needs. With organs not getting the blood they need, fluid builds in places it shouldn’t, the lungs, the gastrointestinal tract, the liver and even the arms and legs.

The symptoms often appear slowly, at first only when you’re very active, though over time you might feel breathing problems and some other symptoms even when you’re resting. At age 40 your chance of heart problems at some point during your lifetime is almost one in five.

For the current lifestyle and heart failure study, 38,075 subjects in Finland were examined to compare the chances of heart failure between men and women. After a follow up of 14 years, 638 of the men and 445 of the women had been diagnosed with heart failure.

Even after accounting for risk factors we know impact heart failure (high blood pressure, heart attack history, diabetes), healthy lifestyle choices brought a lower likelihood of disease.

– Those who smoke had an 86% increased chance of heart failure, however women smokers especially saw a 109% increase in risk.

– Men who were considered obese had a 75% higher risk; obese women had a 106% higher risk.

– Men who did regular, moderately intense exercise had a 21% reduced risk; women who exercised at the same level were found to have a 13% reduced risk. More intense types of exercise increased the benefit, by 33% in the males, 39% in the female subjects.

– Everyone who ate veggies 3-6 times a week showed a 26% for men, 27% for women reduced risk of heart failure when compared to those subjects who only ate vegetables on less than one occasion per week.

Researchers suggest that any lifestyle changes you make to stay healthy are beneficial. Theoretically, almost half of heart failure cases that happen in the general population could be prevented if people followed at least three of the four healthy behaviors.