Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). You can help make sure you don’t become a statistic by taking easy precautions to lower your risk of heart disease and planning towards a longer, healthier life.
Take Action to Beat Heart Disease
There are some heart disease risk factors that are beyond your control: you can't change your gender (males have a higher risk), your family history, or your age (risk increases with age).But other major risk factors can be changed.
You can help lower your risk for developing heart disease by making positive lifestyle changes. Even if you already have heart disease, doing these things can help you prevent a future heart attack and help to keep your heart healthy:
- Quit smoking. Smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop heart disease than nonsmokers, the AHA says.
- Control high blood pressure. If you have blood pressure higher than recommended, work with your healthcare provider to lower it.
- Control high cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, particularly if you have high LDL ("bad") cholesterol, work with your healthcare provider to lower it. Even a 10% reduction in your total cholesterol may lower your risk for heart disease.
- Lose extra weight. Get physically active, with your doctor’s approval. Being inactive can raise your risk. Inactivity is just as dangerous as smoking, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
- Control diabetes. If you have diabetes, keep control. About two-thirds of people with this condition die from cardiovascular disease, not diabetes.
- Limit alcohol use and stress.
You can tackle several risk factors at once by doing just 3 things:
- Eating healthier foods
- Taking your blood pressure medications as instructed
Ready to talk to a doctor about your heart health? Schedule an appointment with an Ochsner cardiologist.