Exercise, a healthy lifestyle and heredity all affect what
happens with a person’s heart later in life.
With the month of February being American Heart Month, Dawn
Clifford, a registered dietician at Hartshorn Health Services, said
this is a great time for college students to learn about actions
taken now that can prevent heart disease later in life.
Clifford said a healthy diet and an active lifestyle will
significantly decrease the chances of heart dieses, which is the
cause of 40 percent of all deaths annually in the United
“It’s unfortunate that its one of those things that doesn’t
happen to you until later in life because you are not going to
(get) the benefits right away,” Clifford said.
Miles Hein, a senior health and exercise science major, said it
is difficult for him to maintain the healthy lifestyle that will
prevent heart disease.
“I don’t have the time to work out or the money to buy healthy
organic food,” Hein said.
The build up of plaque around the heart vessels could start as
early as childhood, Clifford said.
Foods high in trans and saturated fats can increase the risks of
heart disease, she said.
Clifford advised students to replace foods that are processed
and have high amounts of animal fat with fruits, vegetables and
foods that are high in fiber.
“Its important to take steps that will decrease plaque buildup,”
Though the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle will not be
seen until later in life, Clifford said they are essential to
preventing heart disease.
While the right diet is important, other aspects of the college
lifestyle, such as regular exercise, are also vital in preventing
“It’s important to keep the muscles around the heart strong,
keep the heart strong and get the heart rate up,” Clifford
With these precautions and keeping a healthy weight will keep
low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol low.
Clifford also said it is important to find out about genetic
history, which is very influential in predicting a future of heart
“It’s not something that I worry about,” said Leah Hitchcock, an
open option sophomore.
Hitchcock said that she is not concerned about heart disease
because she eats healthy, exercises and doesn’t have a history in
her family of heart disease.
“Of all the other diseases, it’s probably the one I’m least
concerned about,” Hitchcock said.