Scare tactics are never a great way to kick off a conversation, but they’re hard to avoid when it comes to heart disease. The fact is that nearly 650,000 men and women die from heart disease each year, which represents one in every four deaths in the United States. The most frustrating aspect about these eye-opening statistics is that, in a majority of cases, heart disease is preventable.
At Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists, our team has extensive experience helping our patients safeguard their cardiovascular health. And one of the best ways to do that is through solid prevention techniques.
In the following, we review 10 steps that go a long way toward minimizing your risks for heart disease.
1. Lose weight
We know the statement, “lose weight,” is much easier said than done, but carrying extra weight is one of the most dangerous risk factors when it comes to heart health. The extra fat in your blood can cause your blood vessels to narrow, which can lead to serious and life-threatening, outcomes like heart disease and heart attack.
To improve your heart health, we ask that you start by losing just 5-10% of your body fat as even this relatively small percentage can have a highly positive impact.
A great way to lose weight is through exercise, which is also paramount for your heart health since a healthy cardiovascular system is one that gets “exercised” regularly. To keep heart disease at bay, we recommend that you increase your aerobic workouts (a walk or run satisfies this) to at least 150 minutes per week.
3. Quit smoking and vaping
There’s no shortage of health risks when it comes to smoking and vaping, and heart disease is at, or near, the top of the list. Nicotine causes your blood vessels to restrict, among other unfavorable effects, which hampers your circulation.
4. Eat healthier foods
Our diets have become far too reliant on fast and processed foods that carry little nutritional value, but are, instead, chock full of dangerous ingredients like saturated fats and sugar. If you just swap out some of these foods with healthy vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, you can supply your body with what it needs nutritionally and reduce the ingredients that are a recipe for heart disease.
5. Swap meat with fish
One of the best heart-healthy foods is oily fish, which is rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can lower your risk of heart disease. Conversely, red meats contain high levels of saturated fats. If you dislike the taste of fish, try taking fish oil capsules daily.
6. Ditch the salt
Too much sodium in your diet leads to high blood pressure, which can bring on heart disease. Try ditching the salt at your meals for other seasonings like garlic or lemon juice, and pay close attention to sodium content in the foods you eat--you’d be surprised where sodium can hide.
7. Address your snoring
If you consistently snore, this may be a sign of sleep apnea — a condition in which the soft tissues in the back of your throat continuously collapse during the night, causing your brain to rouse you so you can breathe again. Sleep apnea can lead to cardiovascular problems, so we urge you to get checked out if you snore.
8. Manage your numbers
If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, it’s imperative that we lower these numbers because both conditions can lead to heart disease. To do this, we may place you on prescription medications and urge you to follow the other nine steps outlined here.
9. Stress management
Stress is one of the biggest hurdles to good health, especially when it comes to your heart. Stress can lead to high blood pressure and even contribute to arrhythmias. To reduce your stress, we urge you to explore relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. If sitting still isn’t for you, aerobic exercise is a great way to combat stress.
10. Get checked out regularly
This final step is one of the most important. If you have a family history of heart disease or your risk factors are high, you should see us regularly so that we can monitor your heart health and stay one step ahead of heart disease.
To get started, contact one of our three locations in Mountain View, Monterey, or Watsonville, California, to set up an appointment.