Although Valentine’s Day is already behind us, it is always a good time for us to think of our hearts. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, both male and female. There are several types of diseases that affect the heart, but there are ways to prevent many of the problems that may arise, and for those who have been diagnosed with heart disease there are steps that can be taken to lead a healthier life.
It is important that everyone, regardless of age, be aware of the controllable risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. Smoking, stress levels, cholesterol levels, and uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes all contribute to heart disease. Eating properly, being active and avoiding smoking and too much stress are all ways that you can minimize your risk.
It is important to try to eat a heart-healthy diet low in sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol and refined sugars. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Combine this with increasing your intake of foods rich in vitamins and other nutrients to lower your risk of heart disease.
Try to exercise regularly. If it is difficult to set aside 30 or 45 minutes in your day to exercise break it down into three or four ten minute intervals throughout the day. The benefits are the same, and it may be easier to fit into a busy schedule. It is important to maintain a healthy weight in order for the heart to function at its optimal level.
Stress management and relaxation techniques are wonderful tools for caregivers to utilize throughout their daily lives, but for those who are at risk of developing or who have been diagnosed with heart problems they are essential. Be sure to take time for yourself each day and do something you enjoy. Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Set realistic expectations and boundaries. Respect and honor yourself.
Medications may be needed to lower cholesterol levels or to control hypertension. There are many options available and your physician can help you find the one that is best for you. If you are diabetic be sure to keep blood sugar levels in check and follow your doctor’s instructions regarding diet and medications.
Making small adjustments to your daily routine can go a long way in leading a heart healthy life. Keep these recommendations in mind for yourself and your loved ones.
It could mean implementing changes that the entire family will benefit from.