Best Practices for Heart Disease Prevention
Heart disease prevention is and always has been the best approach to heart health. It’s also much easier and less costly than waiting for problems to develop and then attending to them. The key to prevention is identifying and controlling your risk factors. Then you can modify your lifestyle to give you the greatest odds of avoiding heart problems. Lifestyle modification includes:
Eating a heart healthy diet that is low-fat, low-sodium and high fiber is an excellent way to reduce your chances of developing heart disease and maintaining overall health. Include these foods in your heart healthy diet: unprocessed foods, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, eggs, legumes and nuts.
Smoking increases the heart rate and blood pressure, raises carbon monoxide levels in the blood and decreases circulation. When you combine these risks with risks to other systems of the body such as increased risk of lung diseases and cancer, quitting smoking is a no-brainer for anyone who is serious about their health.
The American Heart Association suggests at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise or an hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous exercise every week. You can even break down your exercise periods to ten or fifteen minute intervals and still get the same cardiovascular benefits. One of the best exercises is walking so don’t delay – start today!
Stress is both a direct and indirect contributor to heart disease. When we are under stress, the hormone cortisol is released, which can raise blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. Stress can also contribute to unhealthy behaviors such as: overeating, drinking or smoking, which have negative effects on our heart health. It is important to find ways to reduce stress and anxiety. Remember to make time to relax, meditate, exercise and look after your personal well being.
If you are overweight, your doctor will assist you in identifying a healthy goal weight. Then, reduce the amount of food you eat and improve the types of foods you eat until you reach your goal weight. Maintaining a consistent, healthy weight prevents undue strain on your heart and other body systems during exertion or exercise. It is also known to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as: heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes as well as a number of cancers.