Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death across all genders and ethnic groups in the United States. In fact, approximately 647,000 Americans die from heart-related problems every year.
That’s equal to 1 out of 4 deaths caused by heart disease. It’s likely that one of your family members or friends is affected by heart disease. But, that doesn't mean you have to be affected too.
Most causes of heart disease often involve a poor diet and exercise regimen, as well as an unhealthy lifestyle. Left unchecked, plaque, which consists of fats, cholesterol and other substances, can build up inside your blood vessels and arteries. Plaque can harden and narrow your arteries, which can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.
The thing about heart disease is that it’s entirely preventable. Almost 80% of cases involving heart disease are preventable, according to the American Heart Association. Still, some genetic or environmental factors, like your mom or dad having heart disease, can influence your risk of getting it. In most cases, there are several ways you can prevent heart disease and stay healthy.
Read on to find out how to prevent heart disease.
How to Prevent Heart Disease
1. Choose a heart-healthy diet
Eating right is an important part of keeping your heart health in top shape. Limit your intake of excess sugar, salt and saturated fats. This means cutting out a lot of processed foods and upping your intake of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat foods. You might also want to try a heart-healthy diet such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet or the Mediterranean diet.
2. Exercise regularly
Maintaining a healthy weight is associated with better heart health. Those who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of heart failure, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Make it a habit to exercise 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. Even going for a walk or doing some heavy house cleaning can get you moving and is much better than staying sedentary.
3. Reduce stress
Cardiovascular health goes beyond monitoring your blood pressure or cholesterol only. Several studies have shown that heart disease is much more complex than that. Stress and psychological conditions like depression are linked to inflammation, which can have damaging effects on the heart. You can manage stress through a number of ways such as meditation, listening to music and getting enough sleep.
4. Limit smoking and alcohol use
Smoking tobacco and consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can increase your risk of heart disease. Cigarette smoke contains nicotine, which constricts and damages blood vessels and leads to plaque buildup. Consuming alcohol in moderation (1 to 2 drinks per day) is not usually deemed as dangerous. However, consuming 4 or more drinks per day can increase blood pressure and cause stress on the heart.
5. Manage other health conditions
Heart disease is often associated with other medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. When you go to your annual checkup at the doctor’s office, you can get screened early for all of these conditions. If you already have one or more of these conditions, it’s important to continue taking any medications you need to manage your health.
If you have been diagnosed with heart disease or have any other medical conditions, managing your health can be expensive. You can use a prescription savings card, like Inside Rx, to save money on your prescription medications.
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If you’re looking for help on how to prevent heart disease, there’s no better way to do it than leading an overall healthy lifestyle. Maintaining an appropriate exercise and diet plan, reducing stress and limiting alcohol and tobacco use are a few of the many ways to lower your chances of heart disease. By lowering your risk of heart disease, you ultimately lower your chance of heart complications like heart attack and stroke, and that is something to celebrate!
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