The nature versus nurture debate has raged on for years with most ultimately agreeing that both play a role in the development of disease. When considering serious health conditions like heart disease, there is often an obvious connection in a patient’s family history, with parents, grandparents, or aunt and uncles having battled the condition as well. On the other hand, research has clearly shown that many environmental and lifestyle factors heavily influence heart health and can often be the deciding factor when it comes to cardiovascular disease and illness. The good news is that for those with the nature element of family history, controllable nurture elements such as those below can help circumvent their risk.
Physical Activity Keeps the Heart Strong
Regular physical activity strengthens the heart muscle and improves its ability to pump blood throughout the body effectively. It also helps reduce the occurrence of conditions known to contribute to plaque buildup such as blood pressure and cholesterol. According to the AHA 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity or 150 minutes per week of moderate activity are enough to help keep the heart safe.
Control Health Conditions to Prevent Cardiovascular Complications
High blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes are all examples of common health conditions which can negatively impact the entire cardiovascular system. Again, these diseases can result from components that are both genetic and environmental. For those who do suffer from such conditions, monitoring and regulating them are vitally important in maintaining heart health and preventing dangerous complications.
Eating a Heart Healthy Diet
The food we eat can be just as important as the medicines we put in our body, and in many cases, eating the right kinds of food can prevent the need for medications altogether. Diets that are high in sodium, sugar, and saturated and trans fats are notoriously harmful to cardiovascular health. On the other hand, diets that focus on lean proteins, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables can have just the opposite effect.
Avoid the Dangers of Smoking for the Heart
Cigarettes damage far more than just the lungs. When a person smokes, nearly every part of their body pays a price, including the heart. In fact, smoking is the direct cause of one-fifth of all deaths from heart disease, and smokers have an overall heart disease death rate that is 70 percent higher than nonsmokers. By not smoking or quitting smoking, patients can drastically reduce the likelihood that they will develop cardiovascular complications in the future and can avoid compounding any existing genetic risk they may already possess.
Sure, having a family history of heart disease means you are at a higher risk than others. Still, that doesn’t mean there is nothing that can be done to avoid it. Focus on living a healthy life and taking care of your body, and you can largely counteract your genetic predisposition. You can also find benefit by seeing a qualified cardiologist who can help monitor your cardiovascular health and offer guidance in caring for your heart. Click below to find a cardiologist near you.