The number of Americans that die each year from heart disease is sobering. As many as one in four deaths are due to heart disease. That is 610,000 deaths a year. It is the number one killer of both men and women. Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease and accounts for more than half of those deaths; 370,000 each year in the US alone.
Coronary artery disease is caused when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries. Those are the arteries that bring blood to the heart. This plaque is made of cholesterol deposits as well as other substances. As the buildup increases, the arteries narrow and blood has a harder time flowing. This is called atherosclerosis. Over time, the blood starved heart weakens and eventually heart failure can occur.
The good news is that lifestyle changes can have a significant effect on one’s risk of heart disease. In particular, choices and activities that reduce the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar will, in turn, reduce the risk of heart disease including coronary artery disease. It is important to understand, however, that for those already suffering from some form of cardiovascular disease, lifestyle changes may simply not be enough. If your doctor has prescribed medication, do not fail to take them. In more advanced cases surgery may be necessary. What follows are behavioral changes that can be made to reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Increase Physical Activity
If you do not already live an active lifestyle, this could be the one most important change you make. Regular exercise will not only help maintain a healthy weight and keep blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar down, it makes the heart stronger and the circulatory system efficient. The Center for Disease control recommends 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.
A healthy diet includes several servings of fruits and vegetables each day, whole instead of processed grains and proteins that are low in fat. Eat fruits and vegetables with every meal and chose them when you snack. Eat whole grain breads, cereals and pasta and brown instead of white rice. Always choose lean meats and dairy products that are low in fats. Eat fish that has omega three fatty acids two or more times a week. Cutting down on animal fats is one of the best ways to control cholesterol. Here are some of the more fatty meats that should be avoided or eaten rarely and in small portions:
- Fatty cuts of meat
- Hard cheeses
In addition, minimize your intake of alcohol and sugary drinks.
In addition to lung disease, smoking has been linked to cardiovascular disease as well as negative effects on cholesterol and blood pressure.
The wonderful thing about these lifestyle changes is that they are beneficial in many ways. Lower weight and higher energy levels are a couple of significant benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels will also be positively affected. At Abella Health we can help you maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. Call us today to set an appointment and find out how we can help you stay healthy.