DR. DAWN HARPER WHY TEENS SHOULD THINK ABOUT HEART DISEASE
DR. DAWN HARPER | WHY TEENS SHOULD THINK ABOUT HEART DISEASE
DR. DAWN HARPER | WHY TEENS SHOULD THINK ABOUT HEART DISEASE 2/3
Heart disease is the commonest cause of death in the UK with more than one in five men and one in six women dying from the disease. Its not just older people either its also the commonest cause of death in the under 75s. Pretty geriatric I hear you say and why should you even consider heart disease as a teenager? Well prevention is always better than cure and the amazing truth is that most heart disease, far from being inevitable, is entirely avoidable.
Most of the things that put us at risk of a heart attack later in life are things that we do or dont
do to ourselves and the earlier we start addressing these lifestyle issues like smoking, weight and exercise, the better. Heart disease doesnt just happen to older people. The arteries already show signs of damage in the late teens in some cases. So, 75 might be light years away but here are three things that you should be aware of even now to ensure you dont become a heart statistic -
Smoking Doctors are always banging on about smoking, but we do have good reason. Smokers can expect to die on average 10 years earlier than their non-smoking friends, but the good news is that giving up before the age of 30 can return your life expectancy to normal. Great carry on until 29 then? NO! The longer you smoke, the more difficult it is to give up most ex-smokers will tell you they had several attempts before they finally quit, and the more damage you are likely to do to your arteries.
Conversely, just 20 minutes after giving up smoking, your pulse and blood pressure begin to return to normal and circulation improves. For more advice on giving up smoking visit www.givingupsmoking.co.uk
One in five boys and one in three girls in the UK are now overweight and obesity is rapidly catching up smoking as a major risk factor for heart disease. If you are overweight as a teenager, you are likely to be overweight all your life and being obese at 40 can slash at least seven years
WHY TEENS SHOULD THINK ABOUT HEART DISEASE
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off your life. Weight really does need tackling early in life. Whilst its never too late to do something about it, the later we leave it to trim down, the less impact it has on our health.
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculated by dividing your weight in kilos by the square of you height in metres and should be between 20 and 25. If it is over 30 you are clinically obese. If you are obese in your teens you will be obese as an adult unless you actively do something about it. It really is worth it if an obese person loses just 10% of his/her body weight, they are 20% less likely to die young.
We are becoming increasingly sedentary as a nation. You will almost certainly spend more time sitting in front of some form of screen than your parents did at your age. Current recommendations are that you should take at least 10,000 paces a day. An average pace is 50 75cm. If you are walking as far as you should be this means you will cover between 5 and 7 1/2 kilometres a day, just going about your normal day to day business. Pedometers, which are worn on your waistband, can measure the number of steps you take. They are relatively cheap to buy and they dont cheat! You might be horrified by how inactive you really are. Exercising raises our pulse rate and exercises the most important muscle in our bodies our heart, and the heart is like anything else use it or lose it!
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