Sex, exercise, & heart attacks – don’t forget vitamin D!

Sex causing more heart attacks is sure to catch your eye. Not surprisingly, the Journal of the American Medical Association article on sex and exercise triggering heart attacks has sparked a flood of interest in the press.

We tend to focus excessively on single events and to overlook the importance of longer-term behavior patterns. The bottom line of the researchers was that gradually increasing the frequency of exercise lowers heart attack risk.

Three other longer-term preventive measures should be kept in mind to prevent heart attacks.

Atherosclerosis lessens as vitamin D levels rise - based on Reis in Atherosclerosis 2009;207:585

  • Maintaining good levels of vitamin D
  • Keeping cholesterol levels down
  • Ingesting adequate amounts of omega-3 fats

I discussed the first two in yesterday’s post.

Consumers as well as their doctors are often unaware of the important role adequate vitamin D levels play in preventing atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries that leads to heart attacks. The research supporting this role for vitamin D is growing rapidly.

We all know the importance of lowering cholesterol to reduce heart attack risk.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a third important piece in the long-term prevention of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Jennifer LaRue Huget gave lots of practical advice on how to get plenty of omega-3 into your diet in yesterday’s Washington Post article. This is part of her ongoing series on putting the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines into practice.

Remember, the long-term approach to preventing heart attack means:

  • Increase your frequency of exercise – each additional day per week cuts risk
  • Keep vitamin D levels up – often requires vitamin D supplementation
  • Keep cholesterol down – may require medication
  • If you haven’t quit smoking, do it now
  • Eat plenty of omega-3 fats – if you don’t like fish, try capsules or pills

Then you won’t have to worry about having a heart attack the next time you have sex.

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