10 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
By: Radha S. Mehta, MD, EvergreenHealth Heart Care
February is National Heart Health Month and now is the perfect time to reflect and refresh on the importance of heart disease prevention.
Heart disease is a broad term used for many different conditions such as arrhythmia, cerebrovascular disease, deep vein thrombosis, heart failure and more.
Dr. Radha Mehta, cardiologist at EvergreenHealth Heart Care, discusses the importance of heart disease prevention.
What kind of risk factors can raise our chances for developing a heart condition?
It's important to distinguish that risk factors are sometimes in our control and others are not.
The risk factors that are out of our control include:
- Being Male: Males are at a higher risk of developing heart disease.
- Family History: If you have a family history of heart disease, you're more likely to develop it as well.
- Race: African Americans have a higher risk of heart disease. Heart disease risk is also higher among Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian-Americans.
- Increasing Age: Your chances of developing a heart disease increase the more you age.
While you can't change your genetics, the choices you make as part of living a healthy lifestyle can keep your heart healthier.
We named some things that are out of our control, but what we can do to help prevent the risk of heart disease?
There are 10 things that we can do right now to help prevent their risk of heart disease.
- Start moving. Moving your body for at least 30 minutes a day reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity. Get 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise in a week like brisk walking or 75 minutes of vigorous or high intensity exercise.
- Eat healthy. Ensure your diet contains fruits, vegetables, fish and lean proteins. Oh, and don't forget to drink at least 64 oz. of water a day!
- Keep cholesterol under control. Diet and exercise will help keep cholesterol under control. Avoid fried, processed foods, saturated fats and added sugars. Remain active and exercise regularly.
- Manage diabetes. Knowing how to manage your diabetes can help you take control of your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. We recommend listening to our Check-Up Chat with EvergreenHealth podcast from Dr. Andrew Thurman, physician at EvergreenHealth Primary Care in Monroe, about managing your diabetes. Listen here.
- Keep your blood pressure under control. Having high blood pressure puts you at risk for developing a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat and even kidney failure. To learn what blood pressure numbers mean and what we can do to maximize our health, read 4 Questions about Managing your Blood Pressure from EvergreenHealth Cardiologist Dr. Karlyn Huddy.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests 1–2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women.
- Monitor your mental health. High levels of stress can lead to unhealthy ways of coping. Being mindful of your mental wellness will help you stay healthy.
- Understand your family's medical history. Knowing your family's health history can help you take preventative steps and get ahead of heart disease before it becomes an issue. Ask your family members about their health and discuss your risks with your provider.
- Establish care with a primary care provider. By establishing care and getting routine preventative exams, you're getting a head start on your health. During an annual exam, your provider will perform basic screening labs, a blood test and a physical exam. We invite you to read The Advantages of Establishing Care with a Primary Care Provider by Brandon Smith, ARNP, EvergreenHealth Primary Care Canyon Park.
- When it comes to heart disease, there are some risk factors you can't change. But with holistic heart disease prevention, you can lower your risk of developing heart disease, keeping your heart healthy and happy.