Take some time this month to learn about cardiovascular disease (CVD) and how you can prevent it. CVD refers to diseases that affect the cardiovascular system, including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CVD is the number one killer of men and women in the United States.
STAYING HEART HEALTHY
Although certain people are more at risk for CVD due to race, ethnicity, age, gender, and family history, CVD may be prevented. Taking these steps towards a healthy lifestyle may help reduce your risk factors:
KEEP UP WITH YOUR HEALTH CARE – Get yearly check-ups, and check your blood pressure and cholesterol.
FOLLOW A HEART-HEALTHY DIET – Choose more fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and certain types of food with healthy fats, including avocados, nuts, and olive oil. Limit foods with sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sugar. Saturated fat may be found in red meat, dairy products, and certain oils. Trans fat may be found in fried foods, bakery items, margarine, and packaged snacks.
DO NOT SMOKE – If you smoke or use tobacco, you are more than twice as likely to have a heart attack as nonsmokers. It’s never too late to quit.
EXERCISE REGULARLY – Increasing your physical activity level may decrease your risk of CVD. Remember that both long and short amounts of exercise every day, including lifestyle changes such as taking the stairs or walking the dog, provide heart benefits. Check with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program to determine how much exercise is appropriate for you, especially if you are not currently active.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT – Losing excess weight may help lower your blood pressure and risk of diabetes. You may consult a health care provider to determine if your body mass index is in a healthy range.
SLEEP – Ensure that you are getting enough quality sleep every night, which averages 7 to 9 hours for an adult.
LIMIT ALCOHOL USE – According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, in general, women should not drink more than 1 drink per day and men should not drink more than 2 drinks per day (source: Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion). Consult the Guidelines for a determination of how much alcohol is contained in different types of drinks. In addition, be aware of situations in which you should not consume any alcohol, including when it may cause a harmful reaction with medications.