5 Important Steps Everyone Can Take to Help Prevent Heart Disease

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for men and women in America. The good news is, it’s often preventable. Educating yourself about heart health can help you lower your chances of developing heart disease.

Dr. Richard M. Pavelock and Ronitta Holden, PA at Family Medicine and Acute Care of Sandhills want you to live a long and healthy life. Read on to learn about five steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting heart disease.

1. Exercise regularly

Daily exercise can help protect you from developing heart disease and other cardiovascular issues. We recommend exercising for about 30 minutes at least five times a week.

Short amounts of exercise are better than nothing, so don’t be discouraged if you find exercising 30 minutes at a time difficult in the beginning. Even taking a brisk walk for 10 minutes three times a day can make a difference for your heart health. Exercising can help you stay fit and maintain a healthy weight and thereby reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

2. Eat a healthy diet

Fruit, vegetables, and whole grains all promote heart health. Most adults should try to eat 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will help ward off heart disease and keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. For protein, low-fat dairy, lean meats, and fish are all heart-healthy options.

Trans fats and saturated fats, like those found in many baked goods, aren’t good for your body. But plant-based fats, such as fats found in nuts, avocados, and olive oil, are beneficial in recommended portions.

For a balanced diet, we recommend limiting your salt and sugar intake. Some alcohol, like red wine, can have heart-healthy benefits, but alcohol should always be consumed in moderation.

3. Control your blood pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when your blood pushes forcefully on the walls of your blood vessels. Your heartbeat creates pressure that pushes your blood through your blood vessels to your tissues and organs.

When you have high blood pressure, extra strain is placed on your heart. It works harder to get your blood to and from other parts of your body, increasing your risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease.

You can help lower your blood pressure by eating a healthy diet, exercising, quitting smoking, and taking steps to manage stress.

4. Don’t smoke

If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, consider quitting for a healthier heart. Smoking is a major risk factor in developing heart disease. Chemicals in tobacco generate plaque buildup, narrowing your arteries and damaging your heart and blood vessels. Even smoking occasionally or being around secondhand smoke regularly can increase your chances of getting heart disease.

Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and other conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that long-time smokers who quit can drastically reduce their risk of suffering a heart attack after just one year of not smoking.

5. Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight or obese puts extra strain on your joints and organs, including your heart. You’re likely overweight if your body mass index is 25-29.9, and you’re considered obese if your BMI is above 30.

If you’re at an unhealthy weight, losing even a few pounds can help prevent heart disease. Reducing your weight by only 5% can improve your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Furthermore, losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol level.

To learn more about how you can reduce your risks of developing heart disease, book an appointment online or call Family Medicine and Acute Care of Sandhills at 919-295-6862 today. 

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