Almost immediately after conception, the heart begins its work, pumping blood and supplying the rest of the human body with what it needs to develop, grow, and thrive. From the first beat until the very last, there is no other organ that works as hard or as long. Yet, the heart works so diligently and efficiently that keeping it healthy is easily overlooked, leading many to unwittingly neglect caring for it properly.
Despite its strength and longevity, the heart can be vulnerable in ways you may not have imagined. Consider for a moment that heart disease is the largest health threat to every single American adult who is otherwise healthy. It is the leading cause of death among men, women, African Americans, Caucasians, and Hispanics, claiming more lives every single year than all forms of cancer combined. Fortunately, the risk for heart disease can be greatly reduced with the implementation of some healthy lifestyle choices. Just a few simple changes, and you can significantly improve your heart health, while feeling better than ever before.
Quit Smoking for Heart Health
Smoking is most commonly associated with lung cancer, but it is also a major contributor to the development of heart complications such as coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, and aortic aneurysm. While smoking alone is enough to increase individual risk by as much as 4 times, add to it any additional factors such as obesity or high cholesterol and the likelihood of developing heart-related disease spikes dramatically. Of course, kicking the habit isn’t easy, and many find themselves with multiple failed attempts. If you need help quitting smoking in South Louisiana, contact CIS about our Commit to Quit smoking cessation program.
Exercise to Keep the Heart Strong
The heart is a muscle, and like any muscle, the stronger it is, the harder it can work. Unfortunately, the CDC points to physical inactivity as a top contributor to heart disease. Americans are becoming increasingly sedentary, particularly with age, when physical fitness becomes even more critical for maintaining health. A sensible routine of 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week can help you lower your risk for heart disease while keeping other factors such as weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol in check.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Diet is an important component in the fight against heart disease. Not only does proper nutrition help maintain a healthy weight, studies have shown that diets low in saturated fats and consisting of lots of fresh fruits and vegetables offer a 73 percent reduction in cardiac events when compared to a typical American diet. The overabundance of saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium in many processed foods shares a direct correlation with increased cholesterol and blood pressure, making them dangerous heart disease contributors.
Monitor Cholesterol and Blood Pressure to Avoid Heart Disease
High levels of cholesterol in the blood are directly linked to coronary disease and other cardiovascular events. Likewise, high blood pressure, or hypertension, causes gradual damage and narrowing of arteries, resulting in an insufficient blood supply to the heart. Keeping each of these in check will help ensure that your heart receives adequate blood flow without overexertion. If you are at risk for high blood pressure or cholesterol, or you have already been diagnosed, you should see your physician regularly for diligent monitoring and medication.
Manage Diabetes for a Healthy Heart
Those with diabetes are twice as likely as those without the condition to suffer from heart disease. Not only this, but such complications are more likely to strike at a younger age if diabetes is also a factor. For these reasons, proper management and monitoring of diabetic patients is critical. Diet, exercise, regular monitoring of blood sugar levels, and medications can help minimize the potential impact of the disease.
When it comes to heart health, prevention is the best medicine. Heart disease affects many and can often be deadly. Take care to protect your own heart by following the five tips above. Recognize your risk factors and monitor them closely with the help of your physician. If a cardiologist is needed, ask for a referral to Cardiovascular Institute of the South, and find confidence in receiving care from the area’s most respected heart specialists.