Most of us are born with healthy hearts that have an average lifetime supply of 2.5 billion heartbeats. That’s something to feel good about, but it’s also why taking care of your heart should be a top priority throughout your life. The American Heart Association recommends regular examinations and screenings to ensure heart health starting at the age of 20 and conducted every two to four years after that.
Steps to Take for the Sake of Your Heart
Looking and feeling good on the outside is just as important as how you feel on the inside. About 30.3 million adults in the United States are diagnosed with heart disease annually and each year 647,000 of those individuals lose their life because of it – making this the leading cause of death for men and women. The causes for heart disease are linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. There are risks you can control and some that you can’t. If you have a family history of heart disease, you may be at a higher risk than those that don’t. Awareness of those factors is important and can save your life.
Red flags for heart disease for both men and women include: obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, inflammation, and diabetes. Especially in women, high testosterone levels pre-menopause, stress and depression, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis need constant monitoring and early diagnosis is extremely important.
Decreasing risks to keep your heart healthy should be the goal of both you and your physician. You can reduce your risk by eating well and exercising regularly, quitting smoking and getting regular checkups with your primary care provider. If heart disease is already diagnosed, preventive care is essential and will require regular attention from a cardiologist.
- Eat Well
Fueling your body with the nutrients and vitamins it needs to function is a great start to keeping your heart happy. Those leafy greens you see at the store deserve a regular place in your kitchen. You can use them to make a scrumptious salad or lettuce wrap. Leafy greens like spinach and kale are some of the many foods that have an influence on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, inflammation and triglycerides. Other cholesterol-balancing foods include whole grains, avocados, beans, walnuts, and dark chocolate. A thoughtful diet can contribute to your heart’s longevity.
- Exercise Regularly
While your daily food intake plays a vital role in heart health, exercise is just as important. The American Heart Association recommends that aerobic activity 30 minutes a day, five days a week, is very beneficial to the heart and your body overall. This type of activity can improve body circulation and lower blood pressure. Getting oxygen and blood moving throughout your system, while lowering blood pressure, decreases the effort the heart needs to pump. A national study found that women with high physical activity levels were at a 29 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and that there was a 21 percent lower risk for men with high physical activity levels. There’s every reason to get moving and no reason not to!
- Cut Smoking, or Better Yet, Quit
While quitting is easier said than done, because smoking is an addiction, for the sake of your heart, strongly consider quitting. If you smoke, your chance of dying from a heart attack is 2 to 3 times greater than that of a person who does not smoke. Approximately 1 out of 4 heart attacks is believed to be directly related to smoking. Smoking even a few cigarettes a day (from just 1-4) increases your risk of coronary artery disease. If a person who smokes has a heart attack, his or her risk of sudden death is twice as great compared to someone who does not smoke.
Even 20 minutes of non-smoking decreases your heart rate. Skip smoking for 12 hours and you’ll decrease the carbon monoxide level in the body. As small as these steps may seem, you could accomplish a lower risk of stroke as those who haven’t smoked in their life in just 4 years!
Going smoke-free is not just life-saving for you but it is invaluable for those who care for you and who may also be affected by your second hand smoke.
- Get Regular Check ups
Consulting your doctor about your potential risks and what you can do to help keep your heart happy is a great start! The American Heart Association recommends annual health screening check ups once you turn 20 years old. These screenings can include checking your weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, and blood cholesterol tests. These checkups can help diagnose you early and increase the likelihood that your heart will last as long as you do.
Premier Medical Group is here for you with our own Cardiology Division and ability to provide personalized care. Feel like you need a consultation? Please reach out to our caring and skilled team of cardiologists in either Newburgh or Poughkeepsie, NY locations.