5 Ways to Prevent Heart Disease
At LIFEID, we know the pain caused by losing someone suddenly, especially to heart disease where an attack can come at any time. Everything we do revolves around helping you spend the maximum time with your loved ones. Here are a few tips to help you prevent and lower your risk of having a heart attack.
1. Don’t smoke. If you do, stop.
Perhaps the number one item on most doctors’ lists in terms of prevention, smoking is well known to cause heart and blood vessel damage. According to Harvard Health, cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals that, over time, can do great harm to your body. If you light up regularly, you might also be impacting those around you, as continuous exposure to second-hand smoke will cause an increase in risks of cardiovascular disease by 25 percent.
What can you do? It’s not easy to quit smoking as the nicotine in cigarettes is highly addictive. First, it’s important to remove cigarettes as a temptation, including from your home, your car, or any other place you can access them. We also recommend talking to your doctor who can help you get on medication that can limit painful withdrawal symptoms. Finally, there are also numerous programs and over-the-counter products such as nicotine patches, lozenges, and gum that you can try as well. If you do attempt to quit, you can also identify a buddy to help make sure you stay on the path too.
2. Lower your (bad) cholesterol.
Cholesterol, a waxy substance found in every cell in your body, plays important roles in the production of hormones, vitamin D and the bile necessary for digesting fats. There are two types of cholesterol – low-density and high-density lipoprotein — or LDL and HDL. Low -density lipoproteins “bad cholesterol” can cause plaque buildup in arteries, while high-density lipoproteins help you excrete bad cholesterol from the body. Good cholesterol comes from foods such as:
Bad cholesterol comes from foods to avoid, such as:
- Fried foods, including fast food
- Processed meat
What can you do? Get your cholesterol levels checked. In an ideal world, your LDL blood levels will be less than 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). If it’s above that level, doctors can put you on a regimen to help you lower it. Which, of course, brings us to eating well. It’s not just about cholesterol after all, but eating a diet filled with fruits and vegetables and, if you do eat meat, lean proteins. Doing so will both keep you healthy for the long run and also keep you looking and feeling younger.
3. Get more sleep.
Researchers are just starting to learn more about how sleep affects the body. According to the CDC, Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night. However, more than 1 in 3 American adults say they don’t get the recommended amount of sleep, and such insomnia can lead to serious health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure – the latter one of the leading indicators for heart disease. Lack of sleep is also known to cause short-term disorientation, memory loss, and can also lead to more serious falls in older adults and even depression.
What can you do? Here are a few recommended steps you can take:
- Get on a regular sleep schedule. Try to get to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, even if you’re traveling.
- Lose the phone before bed. The light from these mobile devices makes it harder to fall asleep and “wires” your brain, which is never good right before bed.
- Exercise at regular times during the day. Walking, for example, is a great way to get age-appropriate exercise if you’re older, but try to avoid it 3 hours before bedtime.
4. Lower your stress levels.
Ongoing stress has been known to cause inflammation in the body, leading to high-blood pressure and a reduction of “good” HDL cholesterol. Stress can come from financial, personal, and work- or health-related strains, so it’s important to identify the source and make some effort to mitigate it.
What can you do? It may sound simple, but getting more exercise, meditating or even getting a massage might help. Given many Americans have work-related stress, it’s also good to take a vacation once in a while and unwind. The break can help you recharge and relax a bit.
5. Control high blood pressure.
As mentioned earlier, high-blood pressure is one of the leading indicators of heart disease. High-blood pressure (the kind that develops over time known as primary hypertension) can be caused by a high-level of sodium or potassium in your diet, too much alcohol or smoking, lack of sleep, increased stress and limited exercise.
What can you do? Many of the fundamentals we mention above apply: Eating right, getting regular physical exercise, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight will help you to keep normal blood pressure levels. All adults should also have their blood pressure checked on a regular basis, and doctors can easily treat it to help you bring it down to a normal range.
At LIFEID, our goal is to keep you and your loved ones safe. That’s why we recommend one of our medical ID bracelets, watch sleeves, or watch holsters, which can speak for you (or them) in the case of an emergency. Our medical IDs let professionals know if you’re at greater risk for heart disease or other medical conditions you may have should you not be able to speak for yourself.