7 tips to help you prevent heart disease

The likeliest thing to knock you out of the left seat and also into a pine box is cardiovascular disease. There is no doubt about the value of the following maneuvers to help prevent heart disease:

  1. Do not smoke—anything, ever.
  2. Keep your weight under control. (You also will burn less 100LL.)
  3. Moderate your diet to include more fruits and vegetables, and less red meat.
  4. Watch the amount of fermented or distilled fluids that makes it past your lips.
  5. Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
  6. Have your blood lipids (fats) checked regularly.
  7. Exercise.

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that more people should probably take statins— drugs that reduce blood fat levels and impact inflammation inside blood vessels—despite a seemingly low risk of heart attack or stroke.

In fact, the articles suggested that if people adhered to the updated 2013 recommendations from the American College of Cardiology, between 41,000 and 63,000 heart attacks or strokes could be prevented over 10 years; if even more people were treated, the numbers could be substantially higher. This is the sort of good information to have in your hands when you see your doctor. If you have any risk for a devastating cardiovascular disease, talk to your doctor about his or her views on whether starting a statin regimen is right for you. Remember, however, before taking any new drug, to check with your aviation medical examiner, the medical certification staff at AOPA, and the FAA to ensure it is not disallowed.

The old joke goes: “What is the big deal about getting in shape? Round is a shape!” There is no doubt that making regular exercise part of your routine is a great way to prevent many diseases. However, recent work published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggested that long-term excessive endurance exercise might negatively affect the heart and large arteries by causing structural remodeling that is not beneficial. This would include such things as chronic training for marathons, Ironman triathlons, and very long bicycle racing. So it would seem that as far as exercise goes, moderation makes sense.

Jonathan Sackier
Dr. Jonathan Sackier is an expert in aviation medical concerns and helps members with their needs through AOPA Pilot Protection Services.
Topics: Pilot Protection Services, AOPA Products and Services, Events

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