Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the US according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Recent reports reveal that in the US, at least one person succumbs to this disease every 37 seconds.
Several non-modifiable risk factors such as age, family history, gender, make a person more likely to contract the disease. But certain modifiable factors can also increase the chances of getting it. Nevertheless, you can actually do something to lower your risk of ending up with one.
Here are the lifestyle changes and critical strategies that can significantly lower your chances of developing heart disease:
1. Go for Regular Body Health Screening
Having high cholesterol and high blood pressure can damage your blood and heart vessels. Getting your vascular system screened regularly at a vascular care center can help determine your situation and the actions that you need to take.
Regular blood pressure screening is vital and should start in early childhood. Vascular testing involves checking up of the arteries and veins to help determine if you have cardiovascular disease.
Most vascular conditions don’t have any symptoms, and it’s vital to get tested at least once every year. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Getting tested regularly can help quickly diagnose, treat, and manage the condition.
High cholesterol is another risk factor for heart disease. Regular cholesterol screening is recommended at least once every four to six years. This should start at age 20, although earlier testing is recommended for people who are at higher risk, such as those with a family history of heart disease.
Type 2 diabetes is also a risk factor for heart disease. Regular screening of diabetes can help lower the risk. This is mainly for those with risk factors such as family history with it and being overweight. Vascular surgeons screen, treat and help manage the heart condition.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating healthy is one of the best ways to protect your heart. A carefully planned meal helps keep your heart healthy.
A whole meal plan includes eating greens, fruits, beans, legumes, meats, dairy food, whole grains, food rich in omega-three fatty acids, and healthy fats. Eat enough portions of each.
Low intake of salt, sugar, alcohol, saturated fats (found in full-fat dairy products and red meat), trans fats (found in fast food, like baked goods and chips), and processed carbohydrates can also help stop hypertension.
3. Engage in Physical Exercises
Studies show that doing physical exercises for at least 30 to 60 minutes daily can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. Physical activities play a significant role in reducing your weight and thus lowers the chances of developing conditions that can strain your heart.
In a week, aim to do at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity such as running, and 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise such as walking. Having shorter bouts of exercises such as moving for 5 minutes to do gardening, housekeeping, or walking up the stairs can as well offer incredible heart benefits.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight, especially around your middle area, helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This means the opposite is true. Having excessive weight increases your chances of developing the disease. Weight loss is, therefore, beneficial and can significantly help lower the risk.
Calculating your BMI (Body Mass Index), which uses both your weight and height can help determine whether you have a healthy or unhealthy percentage of body fat. A BMI of 25 and above is considered overweight and is usually linked to heart disease.
Calculating the waist circumference can also help measure the level of abdominal fats that you have. If your waist measurement is higher than (88.9cm) 35 inches for women and (101.6cm) 40 inches for men, then you are at a higher risk for heart disease.
5. Quit Smoking and Using Tobacco
Smoking doubles your likelihood of having a heart attack compared to non-smokers. Even if you are not a smoker, but you’re regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, you are also at risk.
Research shows that if you quit smoking for one year, your risk of developing cardiovascular problems drops to about half that of a non-smoker.
Smokers are at a higher risk because tobacco has chemicals that damage the heart and blood vessels. Cigarette smoke also limits the oxygen supply in the blood. This increases the heart rate and blood pressure since the heart has to work twice as hard to supply sufficient oxygen to your brain and body.
6. Get Enough Quality Sleep
Ensure that you get enough sleep per night. The recommended sleep for an adult is 7 to 9 hours. Getting enough sleep can help lower the risk of depression, diabetes, obesity, and heart attack.
Create and stick to a strict sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. This allows the creation of a circadian rhythm, which is a natural way to regulate your sleep-wake time, that your body adapts to.
Keeping your bedroom environment dark and quiet can help you sleep better. But if you still cannot get enough sleep, seek medical advice.
7. Manage Anxiety and Stress Levels
Are you aware that stress is one of the leading risk factors of heart diseases? That’s right! If you feel stressed, you should find healthy ways to manage it. This may include doing physical exercises, meditation, yoga, and engaging in other relaxation exercises.
These activities will help reduce anxiety as well as improve your heart’s health. And, if you still feel stressed, seek specialist advice to help determine the cause and find suitable solutions to deal with it.