Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States? Sadly, this is true, as every year, 1 in 4 deaths are related to heart disease. There are many types of heart disease, the most common of which is coronary heart disease. This type of heart disease involves a buildup of cholesterol plaque in the coronary artery. Over time, this buildup decreases the blood flow to the heart and can result in a heart attack. Luckily, there are preventative measures you can take to help reduce your risk of developing heart disease. February is American Heart Month and we want to help bring awareness to this prevalent condition by sharing a few prevention tips with you.
1. Switch to a heart-healthy diet.
Changing your diet to include more heart-healthy foods can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fish can help prevent heart disease, as well as lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and your risk of developing diabetes. It is important to avoid any foods high in salt, sugar, or saturated fat, and cut down your alcohol intake.
2. Increase physical activity.
On top of switching to a heart-healthy diet, it is important to engage in a daily exercise routine to help prevent heart disease. Simply walking for 30 minutes, 5 days a week can significantly improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If exercising most days sounds daunting to you, remember that small tasks like walking your dog, gardening, or performing housework all count as physical activity!
3. Reduce tobacco intake.
When it comes to heart disease prevention, it is crucial to reduce your tobacco intake or stop smoking altogether. The chemicals in tobacco can narrow your arteries, leading to plaque buildup, which can cause damage to your heart and surrounding blood vessels. If you are a frequent smoker, carbon monoxide can replace oxygen in your blood, causing an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. The good news is that your risk of developing heart disease significantly decreases just one year after you stop smoking.
4. Regularly check-in with your primary care physician.
Scheduling frequent check-ups with your primary care physician can help you and a medical professional notice if something is awry. Be sure to attend regular heart health and diabetes screenings to help ensure your vitals are on track and no symptoms of heart disease are developing. If you are at high risk of developing heart disease, we encourage you to have your blood pressure and cholesterol read once a year.
You know your body better than anybody else. If you notice changes or symptoms that concern you, seek medical advice immediately. Remember, we are here for you. Do not wait to ask us your questions and let us know how we can help you!