Healthy lifestyle helps lower risk of heart disease
Some might believe heart disease is only a problem for older adults. But, that’s not the case. In fact, conditions that lead to heart disease are developing at a younger age.
February marks American Heart Month, the perfect time to learn about risk factors and steps to take care of your heart.
Americans, ages 35-64, are at risk for heart disease earlier in life due to high rates in obesity and high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The top three risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking or tobacco use and half of all Americans have at least one of those risk factors,” said Dr. Philip Keiser, Galveston County Health District (GCHD) local health authority. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.”
Millions of Americans suffer from high blood pressure – one of the biggest risks for heart disease and stroke – and roughly half of those don’t have it under control. High cholesterol may also increase the risk for heart disease.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the CDC. More than 37 million U.S. adults are current smokers and thousands of young people start smoking each day. Smoking also damages blood vessels and can cause heart disease.
“The good news is you’re in control. You’re in charge of your health and healthy lifestyle changes can help lower your risk for developing heart disease,” Keiser said.
Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease.
Adopt healthy eating habits
Healthy meals and snack options can help you avoid heart disease, and its complications. Fresh fruits, vegetables and foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, carbohydrates and cholesterol can help in the fight against heart disease. Most Americans eat far too much salt, which increases blood pressure. Reduce the amount of salt you consume by choosing low sodium options. Limit sugar, which can increase blood sugar levels by replacing sugary drinks like soda and juices with water or low-sugar alternatives.
Only one in five adults meets the Surgeon General’s physical guidelines of getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week. Aim for 30 minutes each day. You can even break up those 30 minutes into 10-minute blocks to better fit movement in your schedule.
A 10-minute walk can promote heart health, improve brain function, ease depression and help you breathe easier. Plus, a shot of endorphins can help you get through your day.
Staying active helps you keep your heart and blood vessels healthy, maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels. More than one in three Americans – and one in six children ages 2-19 – are considered obese. Extra weight puts stress on your heart.
Take charge of your health. Work with your doctor and health care team to manage conditions that could contribute to a higher risk of heart disease. This includes high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Take medicines as prescribed and learn more about preventing and managing high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
If you don’t smoke, keep it that way. If you do, speak to your doctor about the best way to quit.