Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the US. The CDC reports that one person in the US dies every 36 seconds from heart disease. It’s incredibly important to understand the risk factors that can increase the likelihood of heart disease.
What are the risk factors for heart disease?
There are many factors to consider when determining how “at-risk” for heart disease you may be. These factors include:
- Older age
- Being male
- A family history of heart disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor diet
- Alcohol consumption
How can I prevent heart disease from happening to me?
Your general medicine doctor will most likely be the first person you talk to about your health concerns, particularly regarding your risk for heart disease. They can also provide you with a variety of ways to help reduce your risk and to protect your health, so it’s always important to consult your doctor first. Some ways to prevent heart disease include:
- Making sure that high blood pressure and cholesterol levels are in check or are being properly controlled with medication.
- Limiting or avoiding alcohol altogether. If you do choose to drink, make sure to drink responsibly. This means no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men.
- If you are currently smoking it’s you need to quit smoking as soon as possible, as smoking can greatly increase your risk for heart disease.
- Getting out there and exercising most days of the day. At the very least try and aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. Everything from swimming and walking to yoga can count toward a physical activity that can do everything from lowering your blood pressure to strengthening your heart.
- Eating a healthy balanced diet. What does this mean, exactly? It means nixing junk food and packaged foods that are high in sodium, trans fats, sugar, and preservatives. Make sure that your diet is chock full of veggies and fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and nuts. A plant-based diet can go a long way to improving your heart health.
- Losing excess weight and maintaining a healthy BMI. This can often be done through a healthy diet and exercise; however, we understand that losing weight isn’t always easy. Your general medicine doctor can help you find effective solutions for losing weight safely and keeping it off.
Are you concerned about your heart health? If so, visiting your general medical doctor for an evaluation is a start. Making sure that you keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check can go a long way to reducing your risk for heart disease. Work with your general medical practitioner to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your heart healthy.