You CAN make a difference in your own heart health by managing the risk factors within your control. Consider the following eight ways you can reduce your risk for heart disease.
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Simply being overweight – without any other risk factor – can cause problems as even seemingly healthy hearts are affected by weight, according to the American Heart Association. Even a minimal weight loss can make a significant difference in reducing blood pressure and improving your lipid profile. If, at the same time you can also whittle down your waistline and reduce your total body mass index, that’s even better.
2. Reduce High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but it raises the risk of heart attack and heart failure by causing the heart to work harder according to the American Heart Association. The first step is discovery. If your blood pressure is high, make lifestyle changes, such as reducing your weight, watching your sodium and cholesterol, and increasing your activity. Talk to your doctor about medications that may help.
3. Get Moving
For each hour of regular exercise you get, you’ll gain about two hours of additional life expectancy, according to the American Heart Association. Moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, for as little as 30 minutes daily has proven to boost heart health by improving blood circulation, reducing weight, improving blood cholesterol and reducing blood pressure. Experts suggest being physically active for at least 30 minutes on most or all days of the week.
4. Manage Cholesterol
High cholesterol, particularly high LDL levels, put you at risk for developing coronary artery disease. Have your cholesterol checked and talk to your doctor if it’s high according to the National Heart Blood & Lung Institute. Simple ways to reduce your cholesterol through dietary changes include substituting skim milk for whole milk, limiting your consumption of red meat and egg yolks, and removing the skin of fish and poultry.
5. Relieve Stress Chronic stress has a negative impact on your cardiovascular system and your general health. Pay attention to what triggers your stress and find healthy ways to deal with these triggers. You’ll do your body – and your mood – a world of good!
6. WWatch Alcohol Use
Drinking too much alcohol can raise the levels of some fats in the blood (triglycerides) and can also lead to high blood pressure, heart failure and a higher calorie intake explains the National Institute of Health. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
7. Manage Diabetes
If you have diabetes you are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people without diabetes. Yet, controlling your blood glucose can reduce your risk of a cardiovascular disease event by 42% and the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular disease by 57%, according to the World Heart Federation. See your doctor regularly and stay in control of your blood sugar.
8. Quit Smoking
Smokers increase their risk for coronary heart disease by two to four times, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Further, the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General reports that these health problems shorten the lives of tobacco users by an average of 13.8 years. There are many tools available to make quitting easier. Talk to your doctor and check out the free resources at www.indianatobaccoquitline.net or 1-800-QUIT-NOW.