Understanding Heart Disease
When it comes to heart health, there is a lot of misinformation circulating out there. We want to set the record straight so you'll know how to keep your heart healthy and working strong for many years to come. Here’s what you need to know.
Who Is Most at Risk of Heart Disease?
One of the top risks of heart disease is uncontrolled hypertension or high blood pressure. While this is a more prevalent factor for men, women should also keep on eye on their blood pressure numbers. High blood pressure, also referred to as the “silent killer,” often has no symptoms in its early stages.
If you're diagnosed with high blood pressure at any age, follow your doctor's instructions for bringing your blood pressure to a healthy level. Whether that be by diet and exercise or with prescription medication, controlling blood pressure is an important component to keeping your heart healthy. Besides high blood pressure, here are some other risk factors of developing heart disease:
- Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes
- Lack of physical activity
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Poor diet
How Food Affects The Heart
Consuming too much “bad fat” (saturated and trans fats) can clog arteries and put a strain on the valves that pump blood through your heart. Foods with saturated and trans fats may be found in fast food and processed meats and cheeses. Instead, choose food with “good fat” such as:
- Oily fish (salmon, tuna, and mackerel)
- Peanut butter
Salt, too, can be harmful, particularly if you have high blood pressure. Eating a healthy diet is another relatively simple step to preventing heart disease. Reading nutrition labels before purchasing food items can help you make better food choices.
Why Exercise Is Important
After controlling blood pressure and eating healthier foods, the trifecta of good heart health is adding exercise. You don't have to run a marathon to get enough exercise to make a difference in the health of your heart. Simply walking several days a week can be a bonus in keeping the heart pumping steady. Any activity that elevates your heart rate for more than 15 minutes a day is a positive step in preventing heart disease.
Always check with your doctor before you start any new exercise program to be sure you're cleared for the activity.
Kirby Medical Center Wellness Services
At Kirby Medical Center, we offer a variety of good-for-your-heart wellness benefits, such as exercise classes and healthy meal options, dedicated to your whole health. Read more on the wellness service or contact us at call 217-762-1520.