According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “In 2006, 631,636 people died of heart disease. Heart disease caused 26% of deaths—more than one in every four—in the United States.” It affects men and women of all ages and no one is immune. However, there are some practical steps to take that will drastically reduce the likelihood that heart disease will take its toll on you or a loved one:
- Choose a healthy diet: healthy meal and snack options can help you avoid the debilitating effects of heart disease. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as foods low in saturated fat and high fiber can help prevent cholesterol buildup. Reducing salt intake can also help lower your blood pressure.
- Maintain a healthy weight: An important first step to keeping your weight under control is choosing a healthy eating plan. An overweight condition can increase your risk for heart disease. Doctors sometimes use waist and hip measurements to calculate BMI, or body mass index. Excess body fat can also lead to other conditions including diabetes.
- Exercise regularly: A physician approved physical activity program can help regulate a healthy weight, control cholesterol and lower blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should perform moderate-intensity exercise that includes cardio-vascular conditioning for at least a half hour, five days a week.
- Stop Smoking: smoking cigarettes drastically increases your risk for heart disease and quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor has access to a myriad of prescription and over the counter smoking cessation programs and aids.
- Limit alcohol intake: booze is a toxin and has been shown to increase blood pressure in otherwise healthy patients. It can also complicate the effects of prescription medication.
Heart disease is a serious health problem in the United States and kills more Americans than any other naturally occurring malady. These five simple steps can help ensure you live a long and healthy life.