Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States. Despite its high death rate, heart disease usually occurs when certain risk factors, controllable by the patient, are high. While a family history of heart disease and increasing age cannot be controlled, there are several life changes you can take to help reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your health as well.
The major steps to preventing heart disease include avoiding smoking, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet. These steps can also help avoid conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity, which can all contribute to the development of heart disease.
Smoking is the most dangerous risk factor when it comes to heart disease. No amount of smoking is safe, and secondhand smoke should be avoided as well. The nicotine in cigarettes, as well as many of the other 4,800 chemicals, can increase your heart rate, decrease oxygen in the blood and cause permanent damage to the heart and blood vessels. Quitting smoking drastically lowers your risk of heart disease no matter how long or how often you smoked.
Getting regular exercise is a valuable activity that can help you look and feel better every day, and also help prevent numerous medical conditions. Exercise increases the blood flow to your heart and helps it pump more blood with less effort. It is recommended to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 or more times a week in order to maintain low blood pressure, low cholesterol and a healthy body weight, but it is important to start slow and remember that any exercise is better than nothing.
A healthy diet is about more than just cutting back and eating less. It is important to receive enough nutrients from a variety of different foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Proper nutrition also plays a major role in other factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and diabetes. Balancing exercise with diet can be even more effective in keeping healthy and preventing heart disease.
There are several other ways to reduce your risk for heart disease, including managing stress and diabetes, and limiting alcohol consumption. When practiced together, they can help you live a happy and healthy life for many years to come. Although these steps seem simple, many people lack the commitment to protecting themselves against heart disease.