Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD) which ultimately results in plaque buildup in your coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are responsible for supplying oxygen-rich blood to your heart and plaque can block this flow, causing stable angina or eventually, a heart attack.
Unchangeable Heart Disease Risk Factors
- As you get older, you have a greater risk of contracting any heart illness.
- Even your gender impacts your heart health. Studies have shown that estrogen in women serves as a protection against heart disease but diabetes in women increases this risk.
- Genetics is a major factor as you have a greater risk of having a disease if someone closely related to you has had it.
While these certain risk factors such as age, gender, and family history cannot be changed; it’s important to be aware of them as they become more dangerous when they keep adding up. Your lifestyle plays a major role in lowering your risk for heart disease. With simple lifestyle changes, you may just be able to delay or even prevent heart disease. This time seems daunting but connect with a primary healthcare provider near you and they will guide you. The process of plaque formation actually begins when you’re just a teen. Therefore educating yourself about the risk factors and taking action to lower them is the most hopeful way of approaching this subject.
Here are some ways in which you can lower your risk of Heart Disease
1. Stop smoking and vaping
As a smoker, you are twice as likely at risk of a heart attack. Smoking is a major risk factor, even for people under the age of 50. Tobacco poses the biggest risk factor for sudden cardiac death. Your healthcare provider can connect you with community resources and support. The ‘Find a Doctor’ directory at Access Health Care Physicians helps you find a physician who you feel comfortable with. There are several groups that help you give it up or you can even use patches and gum to help you quit it.
2. Limit alcohol consumption
Consuming anything over the limit is not good for your health, especially alcohol as it can lead to several heart problems such as heart failure or stroke. As a male, you should not have more than two drinks a day, and women are advised to consume one drink a day. Definitely avoid any binge drinking as that increases your risks.
3. Healthy diet
There are certain food groups that can positively affect the functioning of your cardiovascular system while others can make it harder for your heart vessels to pump blood. This is why it is extremely important to have a heart-healthy diet, filled with nutrients to support your heart. It is best to restrict ingredients that can clog your arteries or raise blood pressure. Try to limit saturated fats, processed items, and ingredients high in sodium. Fill up your diet with fresh fruit, whole grains, and vegetables that will keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil have proven to be great additions to one’s diet.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity or being overweight can increase your chances of contracting heart disease. Carrying excess weight puts extra stress on your heart which leads to high blood pressure and triglyceride. Controlling your weight is key to lowering major health risks. The way your weight is distributed also plays a big role. People who tend to carry more weight in the middle, have an increased chance of developing heart diseases.
Heart disease is a very daunting subject and often leaves people stressed. However, starting to look after your health is the first step in tackling this. It is never too late or early to start taking care of the body and taking charge of these risk factors.