Hearts need attention early

Feb 152004
Authors: Carmen Filosa

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,”

Clifford said.

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

heart risks.

“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.

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