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    Life’s Essential 8™

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | February 19th, 2023

    Life’s Essential 8™

    The American Heart Association used to call it  Life’s Simple Seven™, but it was updated last year and is now called Life’s Essential 8. Following Life’s Essential 8™ can decrease our risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, dementia, and other major heart problems.

    1. Eat Better:  Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension (DASH) diet. Eat whole foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts, and seeds, and cook in non-tropical oils such as olive and canola. Making drastic changes to your diet can be difficult, but if you can make one change your diet weekly, that is a start. Consider adding one additional fruit weekly.
    2. Be More Active: Adults should get 2 ½ hours of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. Kids should have 60 minutes every day, including play and structured activities. If you only have 10 minutes a day, something is better than nothing. What is essential is to move.
    3. Quit Tobacco: There is no such thing as a safe product. Any inhaled nicotine delivery product should be avoided. These products include traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and vaping. The national quit line is 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
    4. Get Healthy Sleep:  A good night’s sleep is important to keep the heart healthy. Adults need to aim for 7 – 9 hours. If you have difficulty sleeping, please talk with your healthcare provider.
    5. Manage Weight: Ideally, adults’ optimal body mass index ranges from 18.5 to less than 25. This can be difficult if you are considered overweight or obese. Progress is not gaining any more weight and weight maintenance. There are medical and surgical interventions if your weight is causing significant health problems. Please talk to your healthcare provider. They can refer you to a nutritionist or specialist in weight management.
    6. Control Cholesterol: It is important to know your numbers. Take your medication as directed. High levels of non-HDL, or “bad,” cholesterol also known as LDL can lead to heart disease. Your health care professional can consider LDL cholesterol as the preferred number to monitor, rather than total cholesterol, because it can be measured without fasting and is reliably calculated among all people.
    7. Manage Blood Sugar: Most food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use as energy. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. As part of testing, monitoring hemoglobin A1c can better reflect long-term control in people with diabetes or prediabetes.
    8. Manage Blood Pressure – Keeping your blood pressure within acceptable ranges can keep you healthier for longer. High blood pressure is defined as 130-139 mm Hg systolic pressure (the top number in a reading) or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic pressure (the bottom number). Levels less than 120/80 mm Hg are optimal.

    For more information on Life’s Essential 8, please click here.

    If you are taking medication for high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure, please consider the following:

    1. Set goals. If you are on medication, you and your health care provider should set goals on where they would like your blood pressure, hemoglobin AIc, or LDL cholesterol. If you have not set goals, ask your provider the following questions– You have put me on this medication, what should be my blood pressure, hemoglobin A1c, or LDL so that I know this medication is working? How long will this medication take to get my numbers in the normal range? What happens if my blood pressure, hemoglobin AIc, or LDL cholesterol is not controlled? Will I need an additional prescription?  
    2. Take your medication as directed. Several medications help control blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Some of the medicines have side effects. Do not stop a medication without talking with your health care provider. They can lower the dose or prescribe another medication if you have side effects. Also, if your blood pressure is controlled, hemoglobin A1c or LDL is normal, do not stop your prescription – the medications are working.

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    Secure Your Copy of Sincerely, Your Gynecologist by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.

    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    Secure Your Copy of Letters to My Sisters by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.

    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.

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