The number of deaths from heart disease continues to rise, and it remains the number one cause of death in the United States. Heart disease causes over 600,000 deaths each year. While the numbers are concerning, it should empower you to know that lifestyle changes have a potent effect on your heart disease risk. Making the right changes to protect your heart can help you live a longer, healthier life.
Here at Cardiovascular Care Center, interventional cardiologist Dr. Shahrzad Shareghi encourages patients to take a proactive approach to heart health. Advances in medicine improve the chances of survival following a cardiac event; however, it’s best to prevent heart problems before they start. This is especially true since it’s more difficult to treat heart disease once it develops.
What puts you at risk for developing heart disease?
Being overweight or obese, having high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and/or high blood sugar raises the chances of developing heart disease. Once you develop any of these conditions, your health risks take a major jump. What’s more, having more than one of these chronic conditions at the same time causes your risk of heart disease to skyrocket. Making healthy lifestyle changes can slash your risk for developing heart disease and keep your heart healthy.
Get plenty of physical activity
If you’re not moving enough, you’re hiking up your health risk. The body is designed to move and getting physical activity has a host of health benefits, including reducing the risk for heart disease, anxiety, and depression.
It’s recommended that you aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Choosing an activity that you enjoy increases the chances that you’ll stick with it and make it a permanent part of your lifestyle.
Control blood pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure remains high, it places a strain on the heart and circulatory system and damages the arteries. Over time, the arteries become stiff and narrow, and your chances of a heart attack or stroke go up.
It’s wise to know your numbers. Dr. Shareghi can measure your blood pressure so that you know where you stand and what you need to do to keep your blood pressure within a healthy range. Adopting a heart-healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise helps to control blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, medication can help bring it within a target range.
Elevated cholesterol is a major contributor to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. High levels of bad forms of cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol raise the chance that cholesterol will accumulate within the arteries and harden, setting the stage for a potential blockage and a resulting heart attack or stroke.
It’s best to keep an eye on your cholesterol and adopt permanent lifestyle changes to manage cholesterol. When lifestyle changes aren’t enough, cholesterol-lowering medication can help.
We let patients know that losing weight if they’re overweight or obese is one of the most significant ways to lower the risk for all chronic diseases, including heart disease. Carrying excess weight has a negative impact on nearly every body system, not just the heart.
Some patients feel discouraged if they have a lot of weight to lose to bring their body mass index (BMI) within a healthy range. It’s important to know that losing even a modest amount, about 5-10% of your total weight, drastically reduces your risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases.
Adopt a heart healthy diet
The foods you eat on a regular basis have a strong influence on your risk for heart disease. Foods that are laden with sugar, salt, and saturated fat damage the body over time. Adopting a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats protects your heart. Keeping salt, sugar, and saturated fat to a minimum will go a long way in reducing your heart disease risk.
Keep vices in check
Having a glass of wine occasionally is unlikely to cause health problems. However, heavy drinking and smoking puts you at a significant risk for developing heart disease. If you currently don’t smoke or drink, it’s best that you avoid starting. If you drink, it’s best for your overall health to keep drinking to a minimum. Up to one alcoholic beverage per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men is considered moderate. If you smoke, there are programs and medications to help you quit.
It’s never too late to adopt healthy habits. To learn more about steps you can take to lower your risk for heart disease, visit us at Cardiovascular Care Center. Call 805-203-8284 to schedule an appointment at our Simi Valley, CA office, or 805-203-9858 to visit our Thousand Oaks, CA office. Prospective patients can also request an appointment here on our website.