Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease to affect Americans and is also the type of heart disease that people are most likely to be talking about when discussing heart disease. CHD occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are the enlarged veins that move blood into the heart. When plaque builds up in these arteries, they narrow and less blood is able to travel to the heart. Narrowed arteries and less blood flow increase the risk of heart attack or chest pain which means it is very important to keep your heart healthy and avoid heart disease.
June is National Safety Month and at Orthopaedic Specialists, PLLC, we like to promote safety through healthy living. Below we’ve outlined ten ways that you can keep your heart healthy and avoid heart disease.
10 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy and Avoid Heart Disease
Eat a Healthy Diet
One of the most important steps to take towards keeping your heart healthy is eating a healthy diet. Once a healthy diet is established, all other steps to keeping a healthy heart come much easier. A heart healthy diet includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains that are a good source of fiber, and fish. Doctors recommend incorporating fish twice a week into a diet targeting heart health. What you eat is important, but so is how much you eat. Once you have established a healthy grocery list, research portion control and practice eating correct portions instead of overloading your plate.
Live an Active Lifestyle
Most people are ready to give excuses when faced with living an active lifestyle. From working overtime to having a family, it is easy to put exercise on the back burner and never take it off; however, an active lifestyle is not as big of a burden as most people think. Getting only 150 minutes (2 and a half hours) of aerobic exercise in every week constitutes as having an active lifestyle. Only 2 and a half hours a week of exercise and you’re sure to have a healthier heart for it.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Over time, healthy eating and an active lifestyle will lead to you being able to maintain a healthy weight, but in the meantime it is important to understand what a healthy weight for your build and body type is, as well as, if you are there or if you have some work to do. Start by measuring your Body Mass Index (BMI) to see if you are at a health weight or not. If you aren’t, a 12 week weight loss program is the best place to start. Most come with meal plans that are health conscious and the bundled packages are often easy to follow.
Quit Smoking (If You Do)
Putting cigarettes down is the single, most important thing you can do to ensure heart health and overall health. Smoking cigarettes is the top cause of CHD and once you give up smoking cigarettes, your chances for developing heart disease drops by 50%. There are hundreds upon hundreds of free guides out there to help you quit smoking, but you are more likely to quit with assistance from the National Health Society or Smokefree.gov – the American equivalent. Click here to learn more about the National Health Society and their stop smoking services.
Keep Low Cholesterol
The main culprit behind high cholesterol is saturated fat. By cutting back on the amount of saturated fat that you consume in your diet, you will increase your heart health quickly. There are some very easy ways to lower your cholesterol including: picking leaner cuts of meat up at the grocery store and opting for 1% fat or skim milk instead of whole milk. Talking to a doctor about high cholesterol is a step that may need to be considered, especially if you struggle with lowering your cholesterol through changes in diet and exercise.
Manage High Blood Pressure
If you take all of the steps above then blood pressure shouldn’t be much of a problem; however, some people do struggle more than others with high blood pressure. If you have taken the steps above and have not been able to successfully lower your blood pressure, look at your caffeine consumption and consider cutting back on that. Not a caffeine drinker? Then it may be time to contact your doctor and discuss options in medication.
Drink in Moderation
In small amounts, alcohol can be beneficial to your health; however, in excess it is more likely to be detrimental than helpful. If you are drinking more than one 12 oz. beer, one 5 oz. glass of wine, or one 1 oz. pour of liquor a day – it is time to revisit what moderation means. Not only can alcohol have negative effects on your heart, but it can also raise your blood pressure and lower the effective properties of blood pressure medication.
Stress is a huge factor that can negatively affect your heart health, but thankfully there are many ways to help manage stress. In this day and age, it is understandable that one can get overwhelmed time and time again; however, the time we live in is not an excuse. Manage your stress through exercise, deep breathing, making time for hobbies, discussing things that are bothering you, and going easy on yourself in tough times.
Lower Sodium Intake
Lowering sodium intake is a lot more difficult than not salting your dinner, but it is possible! Holding back on shaking salt over your dinner plate is the best place to start. It may take some time, but eventually your taste buds will get used to the taste of food without salt. Then you can stop using salt completely! Be aware of hidden salts in packaged foods. If there is more than 1.5 grams of salt per 100 gram servings then the food is considered “high in sodium” and should be avoided.
Get 5-a-Day Every Day
Getting your five-a-day every day is a fun and challenging way to promote your own heart health. The FDA recommends getting five separate servings of fruit and vegetables in your daily diet. This doesn’t mean making five vegetable sides with dinner or eating five apples a day. Find creative ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your healthy diet. Some ways to do this include: cutting a fresh piece of fruit over your fibrous morning cereal or adding a vegetable garnish into the pasta sauce that you’ve recently started making meatless.
From this article, it should be clear that heart health and overall health go hand in hand. If you look further into lowering your blood pressure or reducing your cholesterol, you’ll see that all medical advice starts with the same steps: eat a healthy diet, live an active lifestyle, maintain a healthy weight, and stop smoking. These steps are easy to take and easy to make into life practices with a little bit of determination and a lot of patience with yourself. Avoid Coronary Heart Disease and start now! There’s no better time to choose to practice a healthy lifestyle than National Health Month, this June.
If you are interested in learning more about how to live a healthy lifestyle that promotes heart health, contact Dr. Stacie Grossfeld at Orthopaedic Specialists, PLLC in Louisville, KY by calling 502-212-2663 or visiting her website today.