Six Tips to Prevent Heart Disease

Six Tips to Prevent Heart Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.  One in four deaths — about 610,000 annually —  is the result of heart disease, says the CDC.

Clearly, it’s something everyone needs to carefully consider.  Risk factors fall into two categories. Modifiable risk factors are ones you can control through lifestyle changes. Non-modifiable heart disease risk factors are those you cannot control, such as genetics.

The good news is that — even if genetics are stacked against you — you can make choices that influence your heart health.   Here are six tips to help prevent heart disease: 

Stop smoking — Smoking is one of the leading risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) is a buildup of a fatty/waxy substance called plaque; atherosclerosis limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body.

Manage diabetes— If you have diabetes, it’s critical that you manage it carefully, because diabetes is a serious risk factor for heart disease. Be sure to have regular checkups with your healthcare provider, eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise.

Lower blood pressure — High blood pressure (hypertension) can cause increased stress on your cardiovascular system and contribute to heart disease. If you have high blood pressure, work with your healthcare provider to lower your blood pressure through diet, exercise, weight management, and avoiding stress and smoking. You can also lower blood pressure by limiting salt intake and alcohol consumption. If you have been prescribed blood pressure medications, take them as directed.

Nutrition and diet — Studies have shown that eating a diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids (often found in fish) is helpful for preventing heart disease. Conversely, foods containing lots of sugar or salt should be avoided. Stay away from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and an excess of alcohol. Watch calories and try to keep your weight to a normal range for your age and gender. You can use simple online calculators to calculate your body mass index (BMI) between 20 and 25. Eat a variety of good-for-you foods to get the right number of daily calories.

Exercise — Exercise is critical to lowering your blood pressure and preventing heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, most experts recommend you get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, or 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Simple activities like walking your dog, cleaning your house, or doing yard work count as exercise. Just stay active.

Manage stress — While additional research remains to be done, there’s clearly a link between stress and heart disease. Stress can cause pain, sleep loss and can exhaust the body. Chronic stress can cause the heart to work harder, and can worsen any other heart disease risk factors. Exercise can help reduce stress, as can the breathing exercises used in yoga. Spending time with family and friends can reduce stress. Adequate sleep, too, is important to stress reduction.

Help keep heart disease at bay with these six tips. It can be a challenge but the rewards of a healthy life well- and long-lived are beyond description. Learn more about the heart  by using CardioVisual, the free app that provides easy-to-use video-based information about cardiovascular treatments, procedures and conditions..