February 10th, 2011 — 3:48pm

1.     Reduce your iron intake
We should really only take iron if we need it. Because iron is not eliminated from the body we are just going to keep storing it. There is no benefit from having excess iron. Get your ferritin level checked, with a simple blood test. If the level is high, choose food supplements without iron and buy a non-fortified breakfast cereal. Also look carefully to see whether iron is hidden in any other foods you buy such as bread or pasta.

2.          Keep an eye on your ferritin levels
Ferritin levels in women still having periods should be between 12 and 40 micrograms per liter of blood. After the menopause they should be between 70 and 150. Checking involves a simple blood test which can be done through your GP or privately.

3.        Watch the saturated fats
The usual recommendations for preventing heart disease such as not smoking, exercising regularly, maintaining a sensible weight and reducing saturated fats in your diet still apply. If your diet is high in saturated fats and cholesterol and you have excess iron in your blood, you may be storing up trouble. You should reduce or even eliminate your intake of red meat as this can mean double trouble because of its high cholesterol and high iron content.

4.        Keep an eye on your weight
Weight gain is another important factor. The risk of heart disease seems to be increased if you are carrying more weight around your waist and stomach than around your hips and thighs – the classic British pear is not an unhealthy shape, in fact. After the menopause, however, fat distribution changes and more can be deposited around the stomach area. If the ratio of your waist-to-hip measurement is more than 0.8, you can have a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and arthritis and you need to take preventative measures. To calculate your waist-to-hip ratio:
1.     Measure your waist, finding where it is the narrowest.
2.     Measure your hips at their widest point.
3.     Divide your hip measurement by your waist measurement to calculate your ratio.
For example:
79cm (31 in) waist -5- 94cm (37in) hip = 0.84


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