Ways to Prevent Heart Disease

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Heart disease is among one of the top leading causes of death in the United States. It may be hereditary for some, while others may get it from poor choices in lifestyle habits. There are steps you can take, however, to help reduce your chances of becoming the one of the many who suffers from this disease.

  1. Stay away from tobacco products and cigarettes. This is one of the leading risk factors in developing heart disease. The chemicals found in tobacco damage your heart and your blood vessels, as well as narrow your arteries (after a build-up of plaque forms). This build-up is known as atherosclerosis, which typically always leads to a heart attack. Carbon monoxide, found in cigarette smoke, replaces a portion of the oxygen in your blood, which results in high blood pressure and a high heart rate. This then causes your heart to go into overdrive, working harder than normal to supply your body with the amount of oxygen it needs. The more you smoke, the greater your risk will be.
  2. Stay active for 30 minutes a day. Not only will you be able to control your weight, you’ll reduce your chances of having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Walking is a great form of exercise, as well as aerobics and strength training. Even if you have to complete the workout in 10-minute intervals, any activity is better than no activity at all. Gardening, cleaning the house, choosing the stairs over the elevator, and walking your dog also count as a form of activity.
  3. Eat heart-healthy foods. This diet is comprised of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Beans, low-fat or fat-free dairy, lean meats, and fish are also included. Stay away from foods with an excessive amount of salt in them as well as foods overloaded with sugar. Limit your intake of saturated fats and trans fat, or exclude them completely. Some food/food products with saturated fats are red meats, full-fat dairy, coconut oil, and palm oil. Examples of food/food products with trans fat are deep-fried foods (especially fast food), baked goods, packaged snacks, margarine, crackers, chips, and cookies. You’ll know an item has trans fat if the label says “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated.” Healthy fats – such as avocado, nuts, olives, and olive oil – can stay a part of your diet.
  4. Watch your weight. Being overweight, especially obese increases your chances of developing heart disease. Calculate your BMI to determine what weight you should be for your height, and then talk to your healthcare provider about what you can do to get into the best shape for your body and your health.
  5. Get plenty of rest. Those who get little to no sleep on a regular basis are at risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and of course, heart attack. It is recommended to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it, you’ll see positive changes soon enough.
  6. Keep your stress under control. If you handle stress by binge eating or drinking or smoking, you’ll need to find better ways to cope that don’t put you at risk of heart disease. Whether it’s meditation, exercising, or partaking in a hobby, there are plenty of options out there to help you decompress when stress begins to take its toll on you.
  7. Get screened on a regular basis. Your blood pressure levels and cholesterol levels need to be checked often. It’s also a good idea to be screened for diabetes; should you be a candidate, you’ll want to know ahead of time to potentially prevent it.

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