Fact: Heart disease is the leading killer of women in America, causing 1 in 3 deaths annually. However, women aren’t the only ones affected: men are at grave risk as well.
When it comes to heart disease, there are some risk factors you can’t control — like age, family history, or race & ethnicity. However, there are a number that you CAN! Take action to improve your health and possibly save your life, here are seven ways you can lower your heart disease risk.
- Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for developing heart disease. Exercising regularly, losing excess weight, reducing sodium in your diet, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol and reducing stress can all aid in controlling blood pressure.
- Keep cholesterol in check. It’s true: a high cholesterol level can clog your arteries and increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. As such, it’s important to know your numbers. If you’re 20 or older, have your cholesterol checked at least every five years and work with your doctor to learn more about your potential risks.
- Maintain a healthy weight and diet. Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease. Of course, by maintaining a healthy weight, you’re also helping lower high blood pressure and manage diabetes — two other heart disease risk factors. Eating foods low in fat and cholesterol, in addition, to limiting salt and sugar, are other ways to stay heart healthy.
- Exercise regularly. We know there are many benefits to regular exercise — and heart health is certainly one of them. Establishing a weekly exercise routine helps improve your circulation, strengthens your heart, and sheds excess weight in the process.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Drinking too much alcohol can increase blood pressure as well as calorie intake (thus leading to weight gain). Limit the amount consumed to one or two alcoholic drinks per day for men and one alcoholic drink per day for women.
- Quit smoking. Did you know, smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack as non-smokers? Quitting can reduce your risk of heart disease immediately — in fact, within the first year, the risk of heart attack drops dramatically — and within five years, smokers can lower their risk of stroke to that of a non-smoker.
- Manage stress and anger. It’s natural to feel stressed and angry every now and the but when it’s consistent or tends to flare up frequently, you risk raising your blood pressure and triggering a heart attack. Try to manage stress by exercise, meditating, or focusing on a calming and peaceful hobby.
Creating heart-healthy habits is hard, that’s why we’re here to help. Call Kirby Medical Center at 217.762.1830 to learn more about our cardiac rehabilitation program. Not only will the program improve your cardiovascular health, but you should also see several other benefits as well.