2/20/2012 11:33 AM
Prevent heart disease by leading a heart-healthy lifestyle. Incorporate these five strategies into your routine to help protect your heart today!
1. Don’t use tobacco. Tobacco use is one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease. The chemicals present in cigarettes and smokeless tobacco can damage the heart and blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries. Nicotine and carbon monoxide found in cigarette smoke increases blood pressure by forcing the heart to work harder in order to supply enough oxygen to the rest of the body. The narrowed arteries and increased blood pressure that results from tobacco use can ultimately result in heart attack or stroke. Women who take oral contraceptives and choose to smoke are at an even greater risk. When you quit smoking, your risk for heart disease significantly decreases within just one year, regardless of how long or how much you smoked.
2. Exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week. Regular physical activity helps to control weight and can reduce the chances of developing other health conditions that may strain the heart, such as high blood pressure, stress, high cholesterol and diabetes. Remember that daily activities such as gardening, taking the stairs or walking the dog all count toward your daily total of 30 minutes!
3. Eat a heart-smart diet. What you eat can play a factor in your risk for heart disease. Choose foods that are low in fat, cholesterol and salt. When grocery shopping or planning meals for yourself and your family, focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Other foods that can help to reduce your risk of developing heart disease are beans, berries, salmon and other types of fish that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Maintain a healthy weight. The weight gained in adulthood tends to consist of primarily fat, rather than muscle. Excess fat can lead to conditions that increase the risk of heart disease including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. For those that are overweight, even a small amount of weight loss can lead to big, heart-healthy benefits. Talk to your physician about whether your weight is healthy, and what can be done to help you reach a healthy weight.
5. Have regular health screenings. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two significant factors that increase the chances of developing heart disease. However, neither of these conditions have symptoms that are obvious. Regular screenings can help keep you informed of these important numbers and whether you need to take action. Your doctor can help you decide which screenings are right for you.
Copyright ©2012 D. Motovidlak