By Dr. Dave Hnida
(CBS4) – So let’s say you have a family history of heart disease. A strong family history. You might think, “What’s the use? I’m cooked.”
Well, maybe not. There is a great piece of research out which says you DNA is not your destiny. That you can put a roadblock to that family history with fewer steps than you thought it might take—that’s even if you believed nothing could save you.
The research is pretty good—a collection of more than 55,000 people who were dealt a pretty bad hand of cards at birth.
The study was just presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, and says there are simply four basic things you can do to cut your risk of a heart attack in half—even if everyone in the family gene pool has succumbed to a heart issue. Think about that: 50%. That’s a nice chop through the strands of your DNA. And you don’t have to be obsessive compulsive about it.
First, you’ve got to kick the smokes. This is the only absolute must-do in there. Tobacco is gasoline on the heart disease fire. You can’t have any — in any way, shape, or form.
Second, get active. Now the recommendation is for people to get two and half hours a week of “moderate” exercise to stay healthy, and stave off clogged arteries. This research finds just being active once a week – no timeframe specified—was good enough to cut your risk. You can find one day a week to take a nicely paced stroll. Cut the lawn. Rake the leaves. Put down the remote.
Eat better. Even here, the heart experts aren’t saying that you need to eat leaves and graze on grass to lower the risk. Just a little tweaking of the diet. In other words, maybe skip the chips. Say goodbye to the daily donut. The word is if you can follow maybe half of the Heart Association’s dietary recommendations, you can make a dent in your DNA. (see below for those recommendations)
And number 4, don’t be obese. You actually can be a little pudgy—a tad “overweight”—and your risk will go down. You just can’t be busting at the seams. (see BMI link below for the difference between obese and overweight.)
So you see, your genes do determine who you are and what you are at risk for…but it doesn’t mean you are stuck in concrete with them. A few simple steps can add years you your ticker, and your life.