Americans and Heart Health

While the recent trend indicates a drop in the number of Americans suffering from heart disease (nearly a quarter fewer for the period of 1993-2003), still nearly a million deaths are due to this, the most common form of fatal illness. And with Baby Boomers reaching the age associated with the onset of noticeable heart disease symptoms, physicians fear that trend may soon be reversed.

For the most part, we understand what we need to do to ward off the possibility of heart disease -- don't smoke, eat healthier and exercise frequently. And yet, more than 60% of Americans are considered overweight or obese -- and this percentage is rising, especially among teenagers and young children.

In the new volume of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers note the lack of support for physical activity by the current public health infrastructure. In public schools, funding for physical education is often one of the first areas to be cut. Our corporate culture largely issues products (cars, TV's, video games, computers, etc.) that reinforce a sedentary lifestyle. And in our litigious society, we seem more concerned than ever before with attributing blame (e.g., placing sole responsibility on the food manufacturers for the increase in obesity rates). The study cites the need for a change in the way we educate and encourage Americans to exercise in the future.

In the meantime, it's up to us to determine our own futures. And the fact is, we know what to do ... we're just not doing it. It's time for us creatures of habit and comfort junkies to make a change for the better -- and we can! Just getting off the couch and going out for a half-hour walk, three times per week, can make a significant difference in your health and wellbeing. And there are so many ways you can get your heart pumping, there's bound to be a great match for your abilities and personality. If, however, you are unsure how to proceed with an exercise routine, consult with your doctor as soon as you can for guidance.

Other than exercising and eating healthier, what else can you do? Is there a supplement that could make a dramatic difference? Numerous studies indicate that simply by supplementing your diet with Omega-3's derived from fish oil, you may be able to help reduce the likelihood that you'll develop heart disease.

Why is fish oil Omega-3?s so good for us? Simply put, many of our vital organs depend upon our intake of essential fatty acids, and without them, these organs can deteriorate over time. This list of organs includes our eyes, especially our retinas, which are replete with the Omega-3?s found in fish oil.

A study published in Archives of Ophthalmology reports a significant reduction in the incidence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) in subjects who consume fish. The macula is a specialized portion of the retina responsible for focusing on details. The study also uncovered a link between ARMD and high cholesterol levels. These early results certainly point toward a strong connection between dietary supplementation of refined fish oil and the maintenance of healthy vision. At present, ARMD is the number one cause of visual impairment in people aged 50 and over.

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By: Ryan Joseph