12 Tips To Prevent Heart Disease

The number one killer in women and men? Heart disease. Heart disease causes 1 in 3 deaths in women and 1 in 4 deaths in men. The statistics are alarming. Fortunately, there are ways to help prevent heart disease.

1. Maintain a healthy diet.

Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the top ways you can help prevent heart disease. The foods you eat affect the cholesterol, sugar, sodium and saturated fat levels in your body. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, foods high in fiber, low in sodium, low in saturated fat and low in cholesterol as a great starting point. When picking out dairy products, choose dairy products that are fat free or at 1% fat. Read nutrition labels carefully when determining what foods to eat.

2. Stay within a healthy weight range.

Over 2/3 of American adults are overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese greatly increases your risk for coronary heart disease. The additional body fat increases the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A good standard to maintain a healthy weight is to avoid eating more calories than you will burn off in the same day.

3. Exercise.

Exercise is a great way to maintain a healthy weight range and lower your risk for heart disease. Health experts recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. Exercising can lower your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

4. Stop smoking.

Coronary heart disease risk greatly increases when you smoke. Smoking causes damage to your circulatory system, increasing your risk for hardened arteries and blood clots. The nicotine found in cigarettes decreases the amount of oxygen that gets to your heart and raises your blood pressure.

5. Limit alcohol intake.

Drinking large quantities of alcohol can increase your risk for heart disease. Heavy drinking can lead to blood clots by increasing the risk of platelets clumping together. Alcohol also raises blood pressure. Women should limit themselves to one drink a day; men should limit themselves to two drinks a day.

6. Lower stress levels.

Stress leads to behaviors that increase risks for heart disease. Eating more and exercising less are effects of stress. If you are stressed you may be inclined to drink and smoke more to find a way to release the stress. These are all factors that can lead to heart disease.

7. Get health screenings.

Health screenings are important to help you determine if you are at risk for heart disease. You can get tested for high blood pressure, high cholesterol level and diabetes. All three of which can lead to heart disease. By getting these screenings regularly, you can identify heart disease risks in their earliest stages. UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s offers Done in a Day Screenings. Done in a Day is a $90 heart screening package to determine your heart disease risks.

8. Learn your family health history.

Having a family history of heart disease increases your risk. Talk to your family members about your family’s history of heart disease. Discuss this information with your doctor so that you are better able to assess the risk factors for heart disease.

9. Manage diabetes.

People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop heart disease than people without. An alarming 2/3 of all people with diabetes will die from heart disease or a stroke. If you have diabetes, keep your blood glucose under control and practice the above tips for preventing heart disease.

10. Get enough sleep.

Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can lead to heart disease. When you sleep at night, your heart rate and blood pressure go down. Sleep deprivation can also lead to type 2 diabetes by causing an increase in insulin resistance.

11. Reduce your sugar intake.

Your risk for heart disease increases as you increase the amount of added sugar in your diet. The American Heart Association recommends women have no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, and men have no more than 9 teaspoons per day.

12. Know the warning signs for heart attacks.

Knowing the warning signs of heart attacks can mean the difference between life or death. Learn the warning signs and symptoms so you can get help right away! 

Heart disease can be scary. Thankfully, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Cardiovascular team works in collaboration with Cardiovascular Associates, P.C. - with 194 total years of experience - offering state of the art technology and Siouxland’s newest catheterization and EP labs! 

If you or a loved one is at risk or suffering from heart disease, check out UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Heart & Vascular Care for 24/7 immediate heart care. UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s also offers a full array of cardiology services. View the virtual tour of our cardiology services today.

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