red dress photo: Red Dress Project 2011RedDressLogo.jpg Stop smoking. If you plan on smoking, you should also plan on dying young and probably dying of a heart attack. When blood supply to the heart gets to a critically low point, when the artery that sends nutrients and oxygen to the heart muscle narrows, you will suffer a myocardial infraction, a heart attack. Smokers are up to four times as likely to develop coronary artery disease (CAD) than those who don’t light up. Smoking causes the arteries to narrow, contributing to damage caused by other variables like high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and inactivity. CAD is insidious. It can creep up on you; and it’s a disease that starts approximately ten years earlier in those who smoke.  The Framingham Heart Study, an ongoing study that began in 1948, is one of the most well known studies on cardiovascular disease.  From this study, came the Framingham risk score, used for calculating one’s chance of a having a heart attack within the subsequent ten years. This simple test is a accurate and useful tool. The score takes into account one’s sex, age, cholesterol level and smoking status. Once you know your numbers, click on and get your score. The results, good or bad, can motivate adherence to a healthier lifestyle and provide the impetus to stop smoking. Keep in mind that smoking cessation is hard. Most people smoke in response to stress. And without an alternative outlet, the need to light up will persist. Exercise reduces stress and bolsters emotional stamina, so that one is less apt to become overwhelmed by life’s swells. Strategy is key for successful smoking cessation. Commit to an activity that fits realistically into a daily schedule. The meditative effect and release of endorphins (feel good chemicals in the brain) fosters a calm and sense of well being that is unmatched by anything else. Be good to yourself. Go “Red” everyday! Dr. Oz said, “The body is the temple of your soul.” He is right.  It’s time to take stock of our heart health—our lives.  While it is important to let go of forces that are beyond our control, each of us need to do our part in preserving our agility, reducing the occurrence of a mostly preventable disease and pioneering an age where wellness is the new norm. There you have it!  Now spread the word.

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