Every 36 seconds, someone in the United States falls victim to heart disease. The good news? Heart disease can be prevented by maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle and avoiding habits that can increase risk.
Getting just 30-60 minutes of physical activity into your daily routine can have wonderful health benefits. Exercise helps to control weight and reduce risk of health conditions that may put a strain on the heart, such as high blood pressure or obesity.
“Even if you don’t have time to fit in 30-60 minutes of exercise every day, exercise as much as you can. Any physical activity is better than none,” says Dr. Corteville.
Simple activities like gardening, walking the dog, taking the stairs and cleaning the house can all help get you towards your exercise goal.
If you haven’t exercised in a while, be sure to start off slow and work yourself up to more difficult activities. Talk with your health care provider if you are unsure what physical activities are safe for you to participate in.
Can eating certain foods really impact your heart health? Absolutely! Dr. Corteville explained that foods high in saturated fat and trans fat can lead to a higher risk of heart disease. He recommends avoiding foods that are high in:
Look to include a lot of fiber in your diet and avoid overindulging in alcohol, as it can cause high blood pressure, especially in men.
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High levels of stress can lead to a greater risk of heart disease. Studies demonstrate that long-term stress increases levels of cortisol—the primary stress hormone--in the body, which can increase cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.
“Doing things for yourself that help reduce stress will help improve your health in a lot of ways. Try building time into your daily schedule to decompress and do something that helps you reduce stress.”
Anyone can work to eliminate stress in many different ways. A few tactics that may help include:
Simple lifestyle changes can also keep overall levels of stress down, such as reducing levels of caffeine intake and getting enough sleep every night.
“Avoid coping with stress in unhealthy ways,” said Dr. Corteville. “Don’t turn to smoking, drinking, or drug use. These activities can worsen stress later and are very unhealthy for your body and mind.”
Blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and cholesterol are three measurable indicators of heart health. Regularly monitoring these levels can help you understand your health and work to make improvements when needed.
Attending your routine health screenings is crucial in maintaining and monitoring heart health. However, there are ways to monitor your levels at home in between appointments. Talk to your health care provider to understand what levels and numbers are considered healthy for you.
Certain lifestyle adjustments can have a big impact on heart health. Avoiding unhealthy habits that can hurt your heart will lower your risk of developing heart disease in the long run. Try your best to:
Dr. Corteville reminds us to never skip a routine health screening. Physicians are here for you to help you stay healthy and better understand your health. Whether it be a lifestyle change, a change to diet, a medication, or a referral to another doctor, there are solutions to the majority of health concerns that a doctor can help you with.
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