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posted: 2/22/2010 12:01 AM

Your Health: Smoking top risk for heart disease

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By Robert McCoppin

Affairs of the heart

Harvard Medical School's Healthbeat reports:

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• Smoking is the top risk factor for heart disease. But for women on birth control pills, it increases the risk of stroke and heart attack even more.

• Less than one out of three Americans gets enough exercise, but women are even less active than men, especially in the 18 to 30 and over-65 age ranges.

• Women should especially beware of having high triglycerides and a waist over 35 inches, which greatly increase the risk of diabetes or a fatal heart attack.

• "Broken heart syndrome" - the sudden, but usually reversible, loss of heart function after an intense emotional experience - is almost exclusively in older women. Women are twice as likely to be depressed as men, but are much more likely to have social support, especially after retirement.

Eating disorders

In recognition of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Timberline Knolls residential treatment center is challenging families to take time to reach out to loved ones and talk about the issue this week.

Staff members at the Lemont-based center are available to answer questions about eating disorders and treatment at (877) 257-9612, or timberlineknolls.com.

Low-mercury fish

During Lent, Catholics traditionally abstain from eating meat on Fridays and often eat fish instead.

Fish can be a great source of healthy nutrients, but may also contain unhealthy levels of mercury.

Seafood sellers are not required to state the amount of mercury in their product, but consumers can check at gotmercury.com.

The federal government warns that women planning to become pregnant, pregnant or nursing women, and children should not eat swordfish, shark, tilefish or king mackerel because of high mercury levels.

Seafood low in mercury includes shrimp, canned light tuna (not Albacore), salmon, pollock, and catfish.

Weight loss contest

Body Empowered Fitness is offering to help train a dozen people for free to meet their weight loss goals.

The Move It and Lose It program starts March 1 and runs for six months. Whoever sheds the highest percentage of body weight will get free personal training for the rest of his or her life.

Those interested must go to the club at 1562 Lake-Cook Road in Buffalo Grove from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, to complete an entry form, meet the trainers, and find out more.

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