According to the CDC, coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease in the United States. CAD affects blood flow to the heart, which can cause a heart attack. It’s important to live a healthy lifestyle to help prevent heart disease. The more you know, the more choices you can make to decrease your chances of developing heart disease.
Heart disease can be silent until a person is actually experiencing signs of a heart attack, arrhythmia or heart failure. Symptoms may include:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Upper back or neck pain
- Upper body discomfort
- Shortness of breath
Palpitations in the chest may be a sign of arrhythmia and shortness of breath, swelling of the legs or neck veins may indicate heart failure.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are key risk factors in developing heart disease. But there are also other factors that can put you at higher risk including:
- Excessive alcohol use
- Unhealthy diet
- Lack of physical activity
With so many ‘risk’ factors, what can you do to be more heart healthy aware? Luckily, there are habits you can incorporate into your daily routine to help keep your risk of heart disease lower and help you be more aware of any potential health problems so you can seek medical attention in a timely manner.
Physical activity is great for many reasons, and one of them is to help keep your heart healthy. Cardiovascular exercise increases oxygen throughout the body. Participating in regular cardio exercise helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure, helps boost your metabolism, as well as helping to maintain healthy glucose and cholesterol levels. As a bonus, your body releases endorphins, the ‘happy’ hormone. Aim for 30-60 minutes of physical activity each day.
By now, most people know the health hazards of smoking. Even secondhand smoke can have a harmful effect on the body. In addition to being bad for your lungs, smoking can cause increased blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart disease.
Vegetables and fresh fruits are always a yes for good nutrition. Along with fiber and antioxidants, leafy greens like kale and spinach are packed with vitamin K which is good for your heart health.
Lean protein sources provide the necessary nutrients for the body to function at its best. Think lean cuts of beef, chicken and turkey breast and salmon for heart happy animal proteins.
Olive oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat. This is healthy fat and contains polyphenols which helps maintain the lining of the blood vessels. Avocado is a great source of healthy fat as well.
Part of a heart healthy diet is limiting sugar and alcohol intake as well as processed carbohydrates.
Make sleep a priority. Not getting enough sleep on a consistent basis can lead to higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack and depression. Be sure to listen to your body and get those zzzz’s in.
Managing stress has a positive impact on overall health. Yoga, meditation, even playing an instrument or listening to music can help manage stress and have a positive impact on your health.
Regular Health Screenings
It’s easy to put off regular check-ups when you are feeling ok, but it’s better to get an annual screening even if you feel fine. It’s much better to prevent or catch any health issues early on.
Making these small changes to your lifestyle can help reduce your risks of cardiovascular disease. The little habits we are consistent with can make a big impact on our health.
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