Show Your Heart Some Love

Show Your Heart Some Love

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing about 1 in 4 deaths. About 659,000 people in the U.S. die from heart disease annually.

Luckily, you can make healthy lifestyle choices to avoid many of the risk factors that can lead to heart disease. These risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one of these risk factors. Let’s take a look at how you can reduce your risk and prevent heart disease.

Stick to a healthy diet
You can prevent high blood pressure and lower your cholesterol by eating a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Choose foods rich in potassium, fiber and protein. Eat lean meats, whole grains, seafood, and low-fat milk and yogurt.

Avoid foods containing added sugar, sodium and saturated fat. Limit your intake of cheese, fatty meats and dairy desserts. To make sure you’re on the right track, monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Talk to your doctor about how often you should check these measures.  

Get 150 minutes of exercise
Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Experts recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or bicycling, each week. This can help keep you at a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure.

Maintain a healthy weight
Keep your weight in check. How do you know whether you’re overweight? Your body mass index (BMI) is one key indicator. You can calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. Experts consider a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 to be a healthy weight, 25 to 29.9 to be overweight, and 30 and above to be obese.

Don’t smoke
Smoking puts you at greater risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke and want to quit, talk to your doctor about options that can help. It’s also a good idea to limit your alcohol intake. Men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, while women should limit themselves to one drink. Drinking alcohol in excess can raise your blood pressure.

Take your medicine
It’s important to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle by eating well, getting enough exercise and avoiding smoking. If you already have some risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, medication adherence is another important way to protect your heart. 

There are many possible reasons people might not take their medicine as prescribed. They might have difficulty taking it, or they might be concerned about side effects. They might not be sure the medicine will make a difference. Or they might simply forget. But failure to take prescribed medications can cause severe health problems, especially for patients with chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease. 

It’s important to establish a good relationship with your doctor and pharmacist so you feel comfortable talking to them about any questions or concerns you might have. If there’s a reason you are hesitant to take your prescribed medications, talk to your doctor. Also, be sure to tell your doctor about any vitamins, supplements or over-the-counter drugs you’re taking. They might not work well with your prescribed medications. Your doctor needs to have all the information to give you the best advice. 

Eat healthier foods, get regular exercise and take medications as prescribed. It’s advice you can take to heart.