Simple Steps to Avoid Heart DiseasePosted by hcgh_md on Feb 28, 2017 in Cardiac, Eating Right, Fitness, Health | Comments Off on Simple Steps to Avoid Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC). Unfortunately, you may not realize that you are at risk of having a heart attack until it’s too late.
While there is very little you can do to change your family medical history, you can make lifestyle changes to lower your risk. First, learn about the behaviors that increase the risk of heart disease, and then start taking preventive steps.
Behaviors that Increase Heart Disease Risk
Eat a heart-healthy diet
Add these following foods to your diet. They are considered to be the main ingredients of a heart-healthy diet.
- Vegetables – greens (spinach, collard greens and kale), broccoli, cabbage and carrots
- Fruits – apples, bananas, oranges, pears, grapes and prunes
- Whole grains – plain oatmeal, brown rice and whole-grain bread or tortillas
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy foods – milk, cheese or yogurt
- Protein-rich foods – fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, lean meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, soy products and legumes (lentils and some bean types)
- Oils, butters, nuts and seeds – canola, corn, olive, safflower, sesame, sunflower and soybean oils; nut and seed butters; walnuts, almonds and pine nuts; and sesame, sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds
Aim for a healthy weight
Body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight relative to height, is commonly used for determining weight category (underweight, healthy weight, overweight and obese). Adults are typically considered to be at a healthy weight when their BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9.
Use Johns Hopkins Medicine’s BMI calculator to help determine your BMI.
Improve your emotional and physical health by learning to manage stress and practice stress-reducing activities, including:
- Seeing a mental health care provider
- Joining a stress management program
- Being physically active
- Practicing relaxation therapy
- Speaking with friends, family and community or religious support systems
Increase physical activity
Routine physical activity can lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and increase good (HDL) cholesterol levels, control high blood pressure and help with losing excess weight.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends the following:
- Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise – at least 2 hours and 30 minutes per week
- Vigorous aerobic exercise – 1 hour and 15 minutes per week
Before starting a new exercise program, you should first ask your doctor how much and what physical activities are safe for you.
Speak with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit smoking, and try to avoid secondhand smoke. If you are having trouble with quitting on your own, consider joining a support group.
Visit your doctor
According to David Jackson, M.D., a cardiologist on staff at HCGH, one of the critical steps to keeping your heart healthy is seeing your doctor for a routine physical exam. Your doctor checks your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar – the big three indicators for heart attack and stroke.
“If your numbers start to become abnormal, you may not feel different or experience symptoms, so it’s important to have them checked periodically and more frequently as you age,” says Dr. Jackson. “Having a primary care physician monitoring your care to identify trends in your numbers is important.”
Learn more about why primary care physicians are important to your health.
For more details on heart-healthy living, view the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Heart-healthy Lifestyle Changes.
Share Your Thoughts
Do you have any heart-healthy tips – recipe, exercise, stress reducing or other tips? We’d love to hear them, and our readers will appreciate them too. Share them in the comments area.