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7 Strategies to Help Prevent Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death among men and women in the United States. Although some individuals have a genetic predisposition, there are several ways to help prevent the onset of heart disease and reduce your risk.

By incorporating these strategies into your daily routine, you will feel healthier and stronger while reducing your risks for heart disease.

1. Exercise Regularly Throughout the Week

Participating in regular exercise or activity such as walking throughout the week can reduce your risk of heart disease, especially when paired with other lifestyle changes. Physical activity not only strengthens your heart but also helps you control your weight, which will in turn minimize the risk of developing other conditions that can put a strain on your heart.

Thirty minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week can offer heart benefits. Most people think that high intensity exercise is the only way to get in their 30 minutes, but this is not for everyone. Regular every day activities such as gardening, housekeeping, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking the dog count towards your exercise for the week.

Before starting a new exercise regimen, it’s important to consult with your doctor to ensure you are adapting healthy regimens that are ideal for your age and health status.

2. Eat a Heart-Heathy Diet

Eating a well-balanced diet is imperative to reduce the risk of heart disease. Try to limit or avoid foods that are high in salt, sugars in certain fats, including saturated fats and trans fats.

Sources of saturated fat:

  • Red Meat
  • Coconut and Palm Oils
  • Full-Fat Dairy Products
  • Extreme fatigue

Sources of trans fat:

  • Deep-Fried Foods
  • Bakery Products
  • Packaged Snack Foods
  • Crackers, Chips, and Cookies

Diets that are rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are extremely healthy for the heart and digestive system. The type of foods you should incorporate into your diet are fiber-rich, such as nuts, beans, oatmeal, low-fat or fat-free dairy products like fat-free yogurt, lean meats and fish, especially salmon, healthy fats like olives or olive oil, avocadoes and nuts like almonds or walnuts.

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease and other conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. These conditions may impact the blood flow or health of the heart muscle causing it to work harder. Weight loss, even if only by a small amount, can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, helping lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

4. Manage Stress

Finding healthy ways to manage your stress is imperative for your heart health, whether this is through relaxation exercises, meditation, yoga or general physical activity. Coping with stress by overeating, drinking, or smoking can cause health problems down the line.

5. Get Regular Health Screenings

The health concerns such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes do not cause an individual to have any symptoms or the symptoms are so minimal they go unnoticed. During your yearly physicals, your healthcare provider will perform a blood pressure test starting at an early age and, as you age, your doctor will also screen you for diabetes and measure your cholesterol levels.

Depending on several risk factors, your doctor may recommend certain screenings at an earlier age or screen you more often. Many of these conditions that lead to heart disease are manageable and through recommended lifestyle chances, the risk for heart disease and additional health concerns will be reduced.

6. Don’t Smoke or Use Tobacco

The chemicals in tobacco cause plaque buildup in the arteries, narrowing them and reducing blood flow to the heart. Over time, the arteries will become so narrow that blood is no longer able to travel through them, causing a heart attack. Smoking tobacco and second-hand smoke both increase your risk for heart attack, but the good thing is that as soon as you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease is significantly reduced.

7. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep deprivation can be harmful to your health and individuals that don’t get enough sleep are at a greater risk for obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression.

Making sleep a priority is extremely important. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night and sticking to a sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time every day) makes it easier to ensure an adequate amount of sleep each night.

Making healthy lifestyle choices will help you be a happy and healthy you, while decreasing risk for many medical issues, especially heart disease. If you or a loved one has recently suffered a heart attack, Salter HealthCare’s Post-Acute and Rehabilitation Care Programs at our Aberjona, Winchester and Woburn locations will address your personal recovery goals. To learn more about our short-term care, please call us at (781) 729-2200.

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