Sadly, many of us know someone who is affected by heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, over 2000 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day. However, there is a way to make a difference! In fact, approximately 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases may be preventable with lifestyle changes and education.
What is Heart Disease and Cardiovascular Disease?
Heart disease comprises of a range of conditions that affect your heart. These conditions can range from heart defects you are born with to blocked blood vessels. Heart disease is more of an umbrella term, while cardiovascular disease more specifically refers to narrowed or blocked blood vessels. Narrowed or blocked blood vessels can lead to heart attacks and stroke.
Many Cardiovascular Diseases are Preventable
While certain risk factors for heart disease are not within your control (such as genetics), many key factors are. Even moderate lifestyle and diet changes can reduce your risk for developing heart disease. Here are some lifestyle and diet changes to consider:
Physical activity is very good for both the body and mind. It helps you lower your blood pressure, maintain a healthy body weight, boost good cholesterol levels, and keeps you physically and mentally fit. Consult with your doctor before beginning physical activity to make sure you are healthy enough.
The average American diet is high in processed foods with sugar and saturated fats. For a more heart-healthy diet, avoid fast food as much as possible. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. Select whole grains with lots of fiber. Fiber plays a role with heart health. Limit unhealthy fats, such as butter, bacon fat, cream sauces, and hydrogenated margarine. Healthy fats to add to your diet include avocados, nuts, and olive oil. Speak with your doctor if you plan to change your diet. Make sure it is safe to do so.
Make a Few Small Changes at a Time
It’s hard to make changes to your life. Especially if you have been doing something a certain way for years. Instead, start with a few small changes. Once you master a change and feel comfortable with it, move on to the next small change. For example, if you drink soda every day, cut down to once a week. Or if you never exercise, try doing a brisk 10 minute walk every day for a week. Once it becomes part of your daily routine, gradually add more time to the walk.
Small changes at a time will help you develop healthy habits and keep you from becoming discouraged or overwhelmed.
With the American Heart Month just starting, consider checking out your heart health:
- What is your blood pressure at?
- What are your cholesterol and triglycerides levels? What do these mean?
- Based on these numbers, are there any diet or lifestyle changes you need to make?
- Could you use a little more physical activity? Are you stuck at a desk all work day?
Have you recently visited the doctor and checked out your heart health? At Apex Medical Center, a local Las Vegas pain clinic and medical center, we provide both pain management and primary care to our patients. Make an appointment with us to see one of our doctors and get your health checked out.