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7 Ways to Control Your Risk for Heart Disease

By Michael Ross, MD

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Our cardiologists understand the importance of prevention when it comes to being proactive about your heart health.

Cardiologist, Dr. Michael Ross, shares some tips on how to control your risk for heart disease.

  1. Get active

It is recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, five days a week. This can include walking fast, biking, jogging or participating in an exercise class that raises your heart rate.

If you commit to an active lifestyle you will feel healthier, while also lowering your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. If you do not currently exercise, you can start simple by briskly walking to increase your heart rate. When it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing!

  1. Control cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance made by your body to create cell membranes and hormones. We all have good cholesterol, referred to as high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), which is supported by a healthy diet and regular exercise. However, some people develop bad cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), that creates plaque in your  arteries making it harder for your heart to circulate blood.

Maintaining a healthy cholesterol level will help your arteries remain clear of blockages, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Healthy eating and increasing exercise are great first steps to lowering your cholesterol levels. For some people, medication may be required to assist in lowering cholesterol.Talk to your physician to find out what is best for you. It is recommended that people over the age of 20 should have their cholesterol levels checked every five years.

  1. Practice healthy eating habits

Healthy food is the fuel for our bodies. Be sure to load your plate with vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy, whole grains and lean meats. Start by making small changes over time, focusing on only one specific change at a given time. By not rushing to overhaul your diet, the changes are more likely to stick and become part of your lifestyle.

  1. Manage your blood pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When you keep your blood pressure within a healthy range, it reduces the strain on your heart, arteries and kidneys.

An ideal blood pressure is 120/80. If your top (systolic) number is at 140 or above and your bottom (diastolic) number is at 90 or above – you are considered to have high blood pressure. You can lower your blood pressure by losing weight, exercising, eating healthy, reducing sodium intake, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding tobacco,  and reducing your stress level. For some, medication may be necessary to control your blood pressure.Talk to your physician about what is best for you.

  1. Reduce Weight

If you have too much fat, especially around your mid-section, you are at a higher risk for health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. You can reduce your risk of these health conditions by maintaining a healthy weight with diet and exercise. Just losing five to ten pounds can create a dramatic difference in your overall health.

  1. Lower blood sugar

When we eat, most of the food we consume is turned into glucose (blood sugar) that our bodies use as energy. If you are fasting, your blood sugar level should be at or below 100, which indicates you are in the healthy range. If not, your test results may indicate pre-diabetes or diabetes. To lower your blood sugar levels, you can reduce your consumption of foods high in sugar, such as sweetened cereals, yogurts and desserts, white breads and pastas as well as sugary drinks including soda and sweetened juices.

  1. Stop Smoking

Did you know that tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals? Quitting is the best thing you can do for your health as it affects your whole body. Smoking damages your circulatory system, reduces your good cholesterol and lung capacity, and increases your risk for heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysm and blood clots. Plus, second hand smoke can affect your family in the same ways just from being around you when you are smoking.

This list may seem daunting, but start simple. By exercising more and eating better, you will lose weight and lower your cholesterol and blood sugar which will lead to a healthier lifestyle for you and your family.

We encourage you to share this with your friends and family to help prevent heart disease today! You can schedule an appointment with a Cardiologist online, or by calling your preferred location.

Topics and Subtopics: Heart Health & Women's Health

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