Take charge of your heart health to avoid heart disease. While certain risk factors for heart disease, such as family history or age, are inevitable, there are several risk factors that you may control.
Heart disease is the top cause of mortality in the United States and around the world, so act now rather than wait for symptoms to manifest. Act immediately by determining your risk factors and then managing or eliminating them.
When some individuals first detect chest discomfort, shortness of breath, or palpitations, they seek care. Patients should take action at the earliest indicator of danger, which is a family history of heart disease. Other significant risk factors for heart disease include the following:
- Hypercholesterolemia and hypertension
- Sedentary way of life
While heart disease is a primary cause of mortality, it is not a foregone conclusion. While certain risk factors, such as family history, gender, or age, cannot be changed, there are several strategies to minimize your risk of heart disease.
Begin with these seven heart-healthy tips:
1. Abstain from smoking or using tobacco
Stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco is one of the healthiest things you can do for your heart. Even if you are not a smoker, you should prevent exposure to secondhand smoke.
Tobacco contains chemicals that can be harmful to the heart and blood vessels. Cigarette smoke depletes the oxygen in the blood, increasing blood pressure and heart rate as the heart works harder to provide the body and brain with enough oxygen.
However, there is some good news. The chance of developing heart disease begins to decline as soon as a day after stopping. After one year of abstinence from cigarettes, the risk of developing heart disease is around half that of a smoker. Regardless of how long or how much you smoked, you’ll begin enjoying benefits immediately upon quitting.
2. Get moving: Aim for a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of physical exercise every day.
Daily physical activity can help reduce your chance of developing heart disease. Physical activity aids with weight management. Additionally, it decreases the risk of acquiring other heart-related illnesses, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
If you haven’t been active in a while, you may need to gradually work your way up to these targets, but you should aim for at least:
- 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, such as brisk walking
- 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise each week, such as jogging
- Two or more sessions of strength training each week
Even brief episodes of movement help the heart, so if you are unable to reach those standards, do not despair. Simply moving for five minutes can assist, and activities such as gardening, housework, using the stairs and walking the dog all contribute to your total. You do not have to exercise vigorously to reap the advantages; nevertheless, you may increase the magnitude of your gains by increasing the intensity, length, and frequency of your exercises.
3. Consume a coronary-heart-healthy diet
A balanced diet can help protect the heart, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and lower the chance of developing type 2 diabetes. A heart-healthy diet plan should contain the following:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Beans, peas, and other legumes
- Meats and fish that are lean
- Dairy products that are low in fat or fat-free
- Grains in their entirety
- Olive oil, for example, is a good source of healthy fats.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan and the Mediterranean diet are two examples of heart-healthy meal regimens.
Consume in moderation the following:
- Carbohydrates that have been processed
- Saturated fat (found in red meat and whole milk) and trans fat (found in fried fast food, chips, baked goods)
4. Maintain an appropriate body weight
Obesity, particularly around the midsection, raises the risk of heart disease. Excess weight can result in factors that raise your risk of developing heart diseases, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
The body mass index (BMI) is a calculation that analyzes a person’s height and weight to determine whether they are overweight or obese. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 or over and is often related to elevated cholesterol, blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Additionally, waist circumference may be used to determine how much belly fat you have. If the waist circumference is more than:
- For males, 40 inches (101.6 centimeters, or cm)
- For ladies, 35 inches (88.9 cm)
Even a slight drop in weight might be advantageous. Weight loss of merely 3% to 5% will help reduce specific blood fats (triglycerides), blood sugar (glucose), and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Additional weight loss aids in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
5. Get sufficient sleep
Individuals who do not get enough sleep are at an increased risk of obesity, hypertension, heart attack, diabetes, and depression.
The majority of individuals require at least seven hours of sleep every night. Prioritize sleep in your life. Maintain a consistent sleep routine by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Maintain a dark and quiet bedroom to aid with sleep.
If you feel as though you’ve had enough sleep but are still exhausted during the day, ask your health care provider if you should be examined for obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that increases your risk of heart disease. Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms include loud snoring, brief cessation of breathing during sleep, and waking up gasping for air. Obstructive sleep apnea treatment options include decreasing excess weight or utilizing a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device to keep your airway open while you sleep.
6. Resolve stress
Certain individuals cope with stress in negative ways, for as via binge eating, excessive drinking, or smoking. Developing new coping mechanisms for stress — such as physical activity, relaxation techniques, or meditation — can help you improve your health.
7. Schedule routine health screenings
Blood pressure and cholesterol levels that are too high might cause damage to the heart and blood vessels. However, without testing for these illnesses, you will likely be unaware that you have them. Regular screening can inform you of your current statistics and whether you need to take action.
Hypertension. Blood pressure tests are often initiated in childhood. Blood pressure should be checked at least every two years beginning at the age of 18 to screen for hypertension as a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
If you are between the ages of 18 and 39 and have risk factors for hypertension, you will most likely be examined once a year. Individuals aged 40 and older are also given a blood pressure reading every year.
Levels of cholesterol. Adults’ cholesterol levels are typically checked at least once every four to six years. Cholesterol screening typically begins at the age of 20 but maybe advised earlier if you have other risk factors, such as a family history of early-onset heart disease.
Diabetic type 2 screening. Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. If you have diabetes risk factors, such as obesity or a family history of the disease, your health care practitioner may prescribe early screening. If not, screening should begin at age 45 and be repeated every three years.
If you have a problem such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, your physician may prescribe drugs and suggest lifestyle adjustments. Take your medications exactly as prescribed by your health care professional and maintain a healthy lifestyle.