Heart disease has been one of the leading causes of death for decades, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to prevent getting it yourself. Some factors, including family history and your age, are out of your control, but there are many lifestyle choices you can make to decrease your chances of developing heart disease. The following are 6 recommendations from the Mayo Clinic that can help you avoid heart problems.
Don’t smoke or use tobacco – There is a very strong correlation between the use of tobacco products and the risk of developing heart disease. Because the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces oxygen in your body, you’re at an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke because your body has to work harder to supply itself with the oxygen it needs to function properly. According to the Mayo Clinic, “when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops almost to that of a nonsmoker in about five years.”
Exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week – Exercise is important in nearly every aspect of our lives, but in preventing heart disease it is crucial. The Mayo Clinic says, “Physical activity helps you control your weight and can reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.” If you find that 30 minutes of exercise a day is not always possible because of your busy schedule, do what you can to work some physical activity into your routine. Some activity is better than none at all.
Eat a heart-healthy diet – Limiting the amount of fat in your diet and increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself from developing heart disease. For optimal health, you should be striving for 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. By doing this you can make it easier to maintain a healthy weight and avoid other health concerns such as high cholesterol and diabetes.
Maintain a healthy weight – Being overweight is directly linked to health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes—not to mention heart disease. If you carry your weight around your midsection you may be at an even higher risk of developing heart problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, “reducing your weight by just 5 to 10 percent can help decrease your blood pressure, lower your blood cholesterol level and reduce your risk of diabetes.”
Get enough quality sleep – Quality matters when it comes to your sleep, especially in relation to your overall health. Sleep deprivation is a growing problem in our society and the implications of that problem are becoming more and more apparent. “People who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Get regular health screenings – Staying on top of your health is one of the best ways to avoid major health problems, including heart disease. By seeing your doctor regularly and having appropriate tests done, you can manage problems before they get out of control. When it comes to preventing heart disease, some important tests to remember are: cholesterol levels, blood pressure and diabetes screenings. Talk to your doctor about any of these tests you think you may need.
Heart disease is a serious problem, but there are changes you can make right now to reduce your risk of developing it. Small changes made over time can make a big difference. As always, consult your physician with any concerns or questions you have concerning your health and lifestyle choices.