According to the American Heart Association, more than 121 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of heart disease since 2016. Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is an umbrella term. Science uses it to describe angina, myocardial infarction, stroke, atherosclerosis, and other forms of heart disease. Of course, each of these can adversely affect one’s cardiovascular health and could lead to a heart attack if left untreated.
More often than not, heart disease is a byproduct of plaque buildup in the arteries. This not only causes blood clots but it also disrupts the flow of blood to the heart and throughout the body. All in all, heart disease can have a profound effect on one’s overall quality of life. In addition, it can be fatal if left untreated. In this article, we will take a look at 10 ways to prevent heart disease and how they can potentially save your life.
HEART DISEASE STATISTICS IN AMERICA
Having detailed the number of individuals already diagnosed with heart disease in America since 2016, let’s take a closer at some additional statistical data related to the various forms of the disease.
Studies by the CDC show that heart disease accounts for 1 in every 4 deaths in the United States, which equates to roughly 610,000 deaths every year. Also, the same CDC report states that coronary heart disease is considered the most common form of the disease. The condition occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. And it’s is responsible for more than 300,000 deaths every year.
Lastly, CDC shares that heart disease is linked to more than 735,000 heart attacks every year in America. While these statistics are alarming, there are things that you can do to avoid heart disease. Of course, you must recognize the early signs and symptoms of the disease. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of heart diseases often occur before an individual ever experiences a heart attack. Some of which include:
- Chest pain
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, arms, or stomach
- Difficulty breathing
- Lightheadedness, cold sweats, and nausea
Of course, this is not an all-encompassing list of the primary symptoms. Moreover, it is a list of the most commonly reported symptoms amongst those who have either experienced a heart attack or have been formally diagnosed.
HEART DISEASES BY RACE AND ETHNICITY
It is fairly safe to say that no one is impervious to heart disease as it can affect the lives of men and women of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. However, some individuals are more susceptible to the disease than others. For example, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, Asians, and Pacific Islanders are the most likely to be diagnosed with heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.
It is also worth noting that heart disease is second only to cancer amongst these groups. Generally speaking, genetics can play a significant role when it comes to whether or not someone will develop heart disease; however, lifestyle choices and certain medical conditions can also be contributing factors as well, some of which include
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Poor diet
- Excessive alcohol consumption
10 WAYS TO PREVENT HEART DISEASES
Now that we have a general understanding of heart disease and who is most at risk for developing it, let’s take a moment to go over a few steps that you can take to improve your heart health and overall quality of life. The best way to prevent heart diseases is by familiarizing yourself with the early signs and symptoms of the disease and making healthy lifestyle choices, some of which include
1. DIETARY CHANGES
Small dietary changes can significantly minimize your risk of developing not only heart disease but other health problems as well. Of course, this is not to suggest that you need to overhaul your diet completely; however, making small changes like increasing your fiber intake, for example, can go a long way toward improving your heart health. Some of the most fiber-rich foods include apples, strawberries, bananas, beans, and potatoes. These foods and other fiber-rich foods can lower high cholesterol, keep you regular and, most importantly, prevent heart diseases.
2. READING LABELS
Along with adding fiber-rich foods to your diet, it is also a good idea to read labels on any of the foods that you’re thinking about consuming as many of today’s foods contain excessive amounts of sodium, sugar, and fats, all of which can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and, over time, heart disease.
3. MAINTAINING A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Maintaining a healthy weight protects not only your joints but also your heart. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excess weight is one of the primary contributors to heart disease. Also, those who are obese are twice as likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Regular exercise is one of the single best things that you can do to prevent heart diseases and to safeguard your overall health. According to the American Heart Association, 30 minutes of exercise each day along with a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and also strengthen your heart by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Additionally, regular exercise can help stabilize blood sugar levels and also reduce feelings of stress.
5. QUIT SMOKING
If you are a smoker, you have yet another reason to quit. According to the American Heart Association, smoking can significantly increase the likelihood of developing heart disease, especially when coupled with other risk factors like obesity and high cholesterol, for example.
In addition to damaging the cells that line the arteries, cigarette smoking can trigger a myriad of physiological changes, including increased blood clotting, high blood pressure, and increased heart rate. That said, quitting smoking is a great way to reduce your risk of developing some of the most common heart diseases. In fact, the risk of developing heart disease or suffering a heart attack diminishes significantly after five years of not smoking.
6. TAKING SUPPLEMENTS
Along with eating a well-balanced diet and exercising, taking the right supplements can help prevent a variety of heart diseases and also improve your overall health. According to Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a well-regarded cardiologist and assistant clinical professor at the University of Connecticut, supplements like magnesium, fish oil, and coenzyme Q10 are among the top three supplements that one can take for all-around good health. However, it is always a good idea to consult with your physician or a nutritionist before starting any supplement regimen.
7. GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
Although often overlooked, getting an adequate amount of sleep every night can help reduce your risk of developing coronary disease. These include coronary artery disease and heart rhythm disorders. According to a study published by Harvard University, poor sleep has been linked to several heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, and heart failure.
If you’re having trouble getting enough sleep each night, you should consider speaking with your physician. They may talk with you about possible treatment solutions like prescription sleep aids or herbal remedies like valerian root or melatonin. All in all, adults should aim to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night.
8. MANAGING STRESS
Eliminating or minimizing stress in your life is a good way to avoid many common heart diseases. Studies show that stress can raise your blood pressure and, in extreme cases, can cause a heart attack. Fortunately, there many ways to get your stress levels under control. Some of the most popular ways to destress include listening to soothing music, meditating, exercising, and staying positive.
9. MANAGING YOUR DIABETES
It is a well-established fact that individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing heart disease. That said, if you have diabetes, it is imperative that you routinely monitor your blood sugar levels. After all, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels as well as the nerves that control your blood vessels and heart. The best way to stay on top of your diabetes is by taking insulin and other diabetic medication as prescribed by your physician and eating low-glycemic foods.
10. CONTROLLING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
Similar to diabetes, high blood pressure can naturally increase your risk of developing heart disease. The best way to keep your blood pressure within a healthy range is by scheduling routine physical exams with your physician and making certain lifestyle changes like exercising regularly and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, for example.