Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The term “heart disease” refers to multiple types of heart conditions, including coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), and much more. The most common type of heart disease includes conditions where blood vessels are narrowed or blocked, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Heart disease is a serious condition. Luckily, becoming educated can be empowering and provide confidence in your ability to make decisions regarding your health. Continue reading for ways to reduce risk and promote heart health.
- Handle the Numbers
- Educate Loved Ones
- Assess Lifestyle Choices
- Recognize Risk Factors
- Target Mental Health
Handle the Numbers
Discuss ideal blood pressure and cholesterol numbers with your doctor. Blood pressure is considered ideal between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. Total cholesterol levels less than 200 mg/dL are considered desirable. Be aware of what impacts these numbers and how to manage them.
Fast Fact: The human heart beats about 100,000 times in one day. No wonder it needs all the help it can get!
Educate Loved Ones
Promote conversations about heart health among friends and family by sharing tips and facts with them. Spread awareness of heart disease and share how people can reduce their risk. Make healthy food choices with family members and teach children the importance of staying active.
Quick Tip: It can be helpful to lead by example and incorporate these habits alongside loved ones.
Assess Risk Factors
Some risk factors are modifiable through healthy lifestyle factors while others are not. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are three key risk factors that can be impacted by lifestyle choice. Other significant modifiable factors include smoking, excessive alcohol use, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet.
Fast Fact: Heart disease is the number one killer of women. Women older than 55, men older than 45, and those with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk.
Realign Lifestyle Choices
Assess your lifestyle choices and consider those that might increase your risk for developing heart disease. Focus on ways to adjust risk factors that are under your control, such as reducing alcohol intake, increasing physical activity, improving diet, and eliminating tobacco usage. Start small and focus on one thing each week, or recruit loved ones to keep each other accountable and boost morale. It will take time to make these adjustments, but the benefits will be long lasting and worthwhile.
Did You Know? The risk of heart disease doubles in inactive people versus people who get regular cardiovascular exercise.
Target Mental Health
Stress can not only take a toll on mental health but can also negatively affect physical health. When stress is excessive it can contribute to high blood pressure. During stressful situations the body releases adrenaline which causes increased heart rate and blood pressure. This reaction is not meant to be constant, but when stress is persistent the risk for heart disease can increase. Give mental health the same attention as physical health. Find time for self-care, meditation, and mindfulness to reduce stress.
Fun Fact: It really is possible to have a broken heart! It’s called broken heart syndrome and can have symptoms like a heart attack. The difference is that a heart attack results from heart disease, and broken heart syndrome is caused by a rush of stress hormones from an emotionally or physically stressful event.