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Unhealthy lifestyle riskier than genetics

Updated: May 12, 2012 8:02AM

Q. Mom, Dad and my grandparents all passed in their early 60s from either heart attacks or strokes. I’m 35 and scared. What can I do to avoid the same fate?

A. Like Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his sidekick Angelica (Penelope Cruz) in “On Stranger Tides,” we all are searching for the secret to a long, long life. We YOU Docs are here to tell you there’s no need to take to the high seas in pursuit of the Fountain of Youth. You can swashbuckle your way to a heart-healthy old age and cut your risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke during the next 20 years by more than 60 percent if you adopt some smart-living steps.

--Don’t smoke or hang around people who do.

--Be physically active; walk 10,000 steps a day!

--Keep blood pressure at 115/76.

--Keep your triglycerides at 100 or less; HDL at 60 or above, LDL under 100, and hs C-reactive protein at 1 or less.

--Keep blood glucose level around 85 in the morning before breakfast.

--Floss regularly and see a dentist every six months.

-- Maintain a healthy weight, a body mass index of 18.5-24.9.

--Avoid the five food felons: trans fats, saturated fats, added sugars, any syrups, and any grain but 100 percent whole grain. If they’re in the first five ingredients on a nutritional label (excluding parentheticals), don’t eat that food.

--Talk with your doc about taking two baby aspirins every day: for guys 35+; gals 40+.

--Have a hobby/activity you really love.

Although middle-age children of parents with heart disease are more likely to have cardio problems, an unhealthy familial lifestyle is more risky than genetics. So put aside your fears, and pick up your sneakers; put down that doughnut and pick up an apple — you are going to have years and years to adventure on the high seas yourself.

Q. I keep trying to quit smoking and then I get all stressed out and start up again. I need help!

A. Our YOU Docs Quit Smoking Plan is simple: start walking (10,000 steps) every day, even before you quit; after 28 days, get a prescription for anti-craving pills, such as bupropion (you’ll have a walking habit and be fighting weight gain already!); find a quit buddy or enlist a coach; and start using a nicotine patch.

The Centers for Disease Control also has a new campaign. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. They offer a free two-week supply of nicotine patches plus free access to a live phone coach. There are also recorded messages, including ones on how to stop; medications; weight control after quitting; withdrawal; and stopping during pregnancy.

So make a plan, get a patch and dial that phone! If you give up smoking, your RealAge becomes one year younger in just two months, and three years younger in eight months. And you get younger every year you stay off the smokes.

King Features Syndicate

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