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What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is the leading cause of disability and death in the United States. Heart disease is a term that groups together various heart conditions and symptoms. Sometimes, heart disease can be undetected. Most people will notice heart disease with the signs of a heart attack or heart failure.

Risk Factors:

  • High blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Having prediabetes or diabetes.
  • Smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
  • Physical inactivity.
  • Unhealthy diet and eating habits.
  • Severe stress and disturbed sleep patterns.

Tips to prevent heart disease:

In honor of February being American Heart Month, spreading awareness about the preventions of heart disease can lower rates of heart related issues around the world. Learning what you can do to keep your heart healthy is the first step to a healthy heart.

Tip #1: Establish healthy eating habits and choose heart healthy foods and drinks.

Developing healthier eating habits can be as easy as simply eliminating certain foods from your diet. Reading nutritional facts and doing research of what foods contain certain basic nutrients, is an important step in developing a healthy diet.

Foods to eliminate:

  • Foods high in sodium. (processed meats, instant microwave products and pre-seasoned and pre-made mixes and sauces)
  • Added sugars. (sweetened drinks and desserts)
  • Saturated fats. (fatty meats and meats with skin)
  • Trans fats. (processed foods)
  • Alcohol.

Foods to increase in diets:

  • Fruits and vegetables. (leafy greens and fruits)
  • Protein rich foods. (fish, lean meats, eggs, and nuts)
  • Whole grains. (brown rice and whole wheat or whole grain breads)
  • Fat-free and low-fat dairy products.
  • Avocados.
  • Seeds. (sunflower, sesame, and flax)

Tip #2: Engage in a moderate level of physical activity and maintain a healthy weight.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition recommends adults to get a total of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine might not be as hard as it seems! Participating in physical activity can also increase your ability to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your chances of obesity.

Physical activity recommendations:

  • 150 minutes of moderate activity level per week (aerobics, walking, running, swimming & dancing)
  • Break your activity levels up throughout the week in increments.
  • Reduce your sitting time!
  • Include weights overtime to help aid in muscle strengthening.

How to maintain a healthy weight:

  • Discuss with your doctor about your weight and to set an ideal weight for you.
  • Engage in as much physical activity as you can weekly.
  • Reduce overeating by controlling portion sizes in your meals.
  • Include healthy snacks such as, veggies or fruits, to your diet.

Tip #3: Manage your stress levels and get an adequate amount of undisturbed sleep.

Managing stress and getting adequate sleep can have monumental benefits to our heart health. An abundance of stress can cause levels of blood pressure to rise and create uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety. Being severely stressed may also cause disruptions in the sleep cycle, thus creating more health issues in return.

Ways to manage stress:

  • Pinpoint the stressor in your life and create solutions that could reduce the stress levels. (journaling or making lists.)
  • Engage in physical activity to get your mind off the stress.
  • Reach out to a friend or loved one who can talk you through the situation. (family member, friend, coworker or a licensed therapist)

Ways to get better sleep:

  • Get on a consistent sleep schedule and stick to it. (going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day)
  • Refrain from using technology such as, cell phones, tablets and computers, before going to sleep.
  • Ensure the room is dark enough to not keep you from falling asleep. (use a sleep mask or room darkening curtains to keep out the light).

Tip #4: Quit smoking!

It is no surprise that smoking tobacco or vaping products can cause serious problems to your heart health. Smoking increases blood pressure and heart rate, causing the heart to overwork itself.. Cutting the bad habit of smoking can do optimal things for you and your health. Not only will you feel better mentally and physically, but you will increase your lifespan.

Tips to quit smoking:

  • Discuss with your doctor the best options for you. (Nicotine patches, nicotine gums, or prescription medications).
  • Call a hotline or join a club or program to help you stop smoking. (1–800–QUIT–NOW or http://smokefree.gov/ )

Tip #5: Attend routine doctor’s visits to check important vitals such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Going to the doctor’s can sometimes be stressful, overwhelming or even be too time consuming in your busy schedule. In reality, routine doctors’ visits can prevent diseases and other medical conditions by routine checkups. Routine doctors’ visits can have excellent effects on our heart health, by checking blood pressure and cholesterol routinely.

Benefits of routine doctors’ visits:

  • Ability to detect diseases or medical conditions that are especially dangerous.
  • Decreases your chances of catching viral illnesses (common cold, or the flu).
  • Produces more time for treatment interventions.
  • Ability to monitor health risk factors (blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI)