With Every Beat

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Do you know if you're at risk?

to work only two months after her surgery, against her doctor’s advice, she has slowed down her pace and is making a conscious effort to eliminate stressful situations and people. “My family was always complaining how I was never home. I don’t like not doing anything,” says Jenkins. “Nowadays I just really don’t have a choice. Sometimes I am so tired, I can barely move.”

Her ordeal has enlightened her about the scope and effect of heart disease, but it has also enabled her to become more introspective and reflective on her life and development as a person. “It made me look at trying to be more positive,” says Jenkins. “It’s taught me to reevaluate a lot of things and a lot of people in my life.”

General symptoms

  • Pain, pressure, a squeezing sensation, or a stabbing pain in the chest
  • Pain radiating to neck, shoulder, back, arm, or jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain
  • Cold sweats or clammy skin
  • Dizziness

Women’s symptoms

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Overall feeling of illness
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion
  • Anxiety

Why You Need More Than An Apple A Day
The National Cancer Institute has launched a program to encourage Americans to eat more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Recommended servings are 5 to 9. Only 4% of men and 14% of women eat the recommended amount. Research has shown particularly encouraging benefits for African Americans. Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, director of the National Cancer Institute and the National 5 A Day for Better Health Program, and Valerie Green, its nutrition program manager, share the researched benefits of adopting a diet rich in fruits and vegetables:

High intake of fruits and vegetables (8 to 10 servings per day) can lower blood pressure in one month. In fact, a study called Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) showed that African Americans, of all the groups in the study, had the biggest drop in blood pressure from adopting a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables are high in potassium, a nutrient that will blunt the effect of too much sodium on blood pressure. Spinach, cantaloupes, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, oranges, grapefruits, and bananas are especially rich in potassium.

Eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily can help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, a major risk factor for heart disease.

Fruits and vegetables are naturally rich in folate — a B vitamin that lowers homocysteine levels, a risk factor for heart disease.

Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables protect cells from damage and may help to avert the damage to arteries that leads to heart disease.

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