Maintaining a Healthy Heart

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Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, which is why it’s so important to take care of your ticker. Heart disease comes in different forms, including stroke, heart attack and heart failure.

There are several preventative measures you can take in order to help fight against heart disease. Here is a list of things you can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle:

  • Quit smoking or using tobacco – The use of tobacco is one of the leading causes of heart problems. Nicotine makes the heart work harder and carbon monoxide decreases the amount of oxygen in your blood. Within one year of quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease decreases significantly.
  • Exercise – It is recommended that you exercise for at least thirty minutes a day to reduce the risk of heart disease. Exercise will help control your weight, which will reduce the strain on your heart.
  • Eating well – There is a specialty diet called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) that can help protect your heart. Foods on the DASH eating plan are low in fat, cholesterol and sodium. Saturated fat and trans fat can increase the risk of coronary artery disease by raising cholesterol levels. These fats can be found in red meat, dairy products, coconut oil, fried foods, packaged foods, margarine and certain bakery products. In addition to reducing these foods, you should also increase your vegetable and fruit intake.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight – If you have excess weight, it puts a strain on your heart and increases your chances of high blood pressure and cholesterol. One of the ways to check your weight is to calculate your body mass index (BMI). Taking in consideration your height and weight, a reading of twenty-five or more indicates that you are overweight.
  • Get health screenings – Undergo regular blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol screenings to track how you are maintaining your health. Ask your doctor for recommendations on how often you should get screened. 
  • Know your family history – Like many other diseases, heart disease has a genetic factor. If there is a history of heart disease in your family, even a grandparent, you should talk with your physician to see if you are at risk. Another factor to consider when heart disease is common among family members is lifestyle choices. Although it can be hereditary, heart disease also stems from poor health. Family members who live together can adopt each other’s bad habits such as smoking and poor diet. When looking at your family history, be sure to examine all the factors.

For more information on heart disease and measures to take to prevent heart disease, please visit www.cdc.gov, www.heart.org, and www.mayoclinic.com.

This information is for educational purposes. Please consult your physician for any medical issues. The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) is committed to bringing trusted and quality home health and private care to Indian River and Brevard County patients. For more information about VNA services visit www.vnatc.com

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