General HealthHeart DiseaseReduce Your Risk

Live Heart Healthy

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Live Heart Healthy!

Follow these simple steps to reduce your risk of heart disease

online tools for healthRegular wellness exams

Visit your primary care provider regularly to check your blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, blood sugar, weight and body mass index.

Tip: Be sure to leave your visit with and understanding of what your normal range should be and learn what you can do if yours fallout of range.

 Smoking cessation

Stop smoking. Cigarette and second hand smoke damages the linings in your arteries. Eventually, a fatty material builds up plaque and creates a blockage of blood flow. The chemicals in nicotine makes your heart rate and blood pressure spike, making the heart grow tired.

Tip: Ask your healthcare provider about nicotine supplements or other medicines that can help if you are having trouble quitting.

Choose good nutrition

While everyone loves to dive into those creamy foods like ice cream and fatty foods such as steaks, that high fat concentration raises your blood cholesterol levels. Cholesterol over time builds up on the walls of your arteries and forms what is called atherosclerosis, increasing your risk for heart disease or having a heart attack. Instead, focus your diet more on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Tip: Even a small change by adding one vegetable serving a day can make a difference.

Drink water

Stay hydrated. This is an important factor in living a healthy life. While fluid keeps your blood from flowing well, dehydration can cause sluggish blood flow and increase risk for clots. It is recommended to drink an 8-ounce glass of water every 2 hours.

Tip: Avoid drinking excess juice of sugary drinks such as soda.  You may be surprised to learn that even diet soda can alter your blood insulin balance in negative ways.

Lower high blood pressure

High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors in developing heart disease. The increasing stress caused by elevated pressure on blood vessels causes them to weaken over time. You can reduce your blood pressure by exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and reducing the amount of sodium consumed.

Tip: Consider purchasing a home monitoring blood pressure cuff if your values are high and keep track of your progress.

 Be physically active every day

Exercising decreases the risk of obesity, in turn, decreasing the risk of fat buildup in the blood vessels.

Tip: Aim for 10,000 steps per day. A simple and inexpensive pedometer can help you measure your daily steps.

 Aim for a healthy weight

Holding on to that excess weight increases the risk of having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. It is important to learn how to calculate your body mass index (BMI) to identify your risk. A BMI 25 and higher is considered a risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease or stroke.

            Tip: Measure your body mass index. More information about your BMI will be posted this week..      

Sleep is not for the weak

Adults should have around 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Set a sleep schedule and try to wake up around the same time each day. Also studied, consistent snoring at night may indicate sleep apnea (breathing cessation at night). Sleep apnea leads to high blood pressure. Easier said than done, but getting enough sleep allows you to wake up refreshed and decreased the risk of obesity, heart attack, diabetes, and depression.

Tip: Start by removing TV, computers, iPad and cellphones from the bedroom.

Reduce stress

While some stress is good stress, too much stress applies strain to your heart. Stress can reduce the blood flow to the heart, develops irregular heartbeats, and increases the chance of developing clots. With this being said, stress can as well create maladaptive coping habits, such as smoking and drinking.

Tip: First learn to recognize your own symptoms of stress- Is it back or neck pain, headache, irritability, insomnia? You can learn more by searching stress on this website.   

 Limit alcohol

Every heard of the saying, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere”? While it has been studied that a small amount of alcohol consumption raises the good cholesterol and has an anticoagulant effect, drinking more than 3 glasses a day increases your blood pressure, creates an enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy), increases your risk of congestive heart failure, and stroke.

Tip:  Talk to your health care provider about alcohol as it is not recommended with some medical conditions. The finding that one glass of alcohol improves health in mem applies to a 6oz glass. Breast cancer risk increases in women with greater than 3 drinks per week.

Learn more about a heart healthy lifestyle at The American Heart Association.

Author: Blake Giroux, Nursing student

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