Making a Change for Your Heart


Our heart is the muscular pump that delivers blood and oxygen to the rest of our body. However, we don’t always treat our heart with the respect and care that it deserves. A report from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention shows that over 600,000 people die of heart disease per year in the United States, and it’s the leading cause of adult deaths in America. What’s more surprising is that heart disease, in most cases, can be prevented. If we can treat the risk factors for heart disease, then we can lower our odds of developing heart disease later on. Let’s look at a few of the main risk factors along with ways to treat them.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure occurs when the pressure of your blood is consistently high and pushing against your blood vessel walls. This constant pressure can damage your blood vessels and make it harder for your blood vessels and your heart to work properly. While high blood pressure can be treated with medications, there are certain healthy changes that a person can make to naturally lower their blood pressure.

High blood pressure is often the result of stress, smoking habits, a poor diet or a lack of exercise. If you smoke, preventing heart disease is another great reason to quit smoking. Find other ways to calm your nerves and lower stress like frequent exercise, meditation, or a new hobby. The American Heart Association suggests following the DASH diet as a way to lower blood pressure as well. This diet recommends eating less salt and more healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol is dangerous because it can cause fatty deposits or plaque to build up in your arteries. If this plaque breaks off, it can clog your arteries and cause a heart attack or stroke. Like high blood pressure, there are medications that someone could take. Statins are usually prescribed, and if a person has an increased risk for blood clots, they might also take a blood thinner. While these medications can be lifesaving, they also come side effects. For example, in rare cases, some patients on blood thinners might suffer bleeding complications.

To keep your cholesterol healthy and avoid taking possibly harmful drugs, a change in diet and exercise habits can do wonders. Many people who are overweight also have high cholesterol, so regular activity like walking, running, or swimming can help keep your weight in a normal range and keep your cholesterol where it needs to be. Doctors also encourage a diet full of fruits and vegetables with less processed sugars and saturated fats. Here is a great list of foods to look for and foods to avoid when lowering your cholesterol.

Diabetes

It might be surprising to hear, but a type 2 diabetic is two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than someone without it. Treating your diabetes properly, however, can reduce your risk of heart disease. If you have type 2 diabetes, it’s important to watch your blood sugar levels and if taking insulin, use as your doctor instructs to keep your symptoms in check. To do this, doctors often suggest using the glycemic index. This index ranks foods by the way that the food affects a person’s blood sugar levels. By finding a balance between foods that keep blood sugar low and raise blood sugar, a type 2 diabetic can lead a relatively normal and happy life while also reducing their chances of developing heart disease.

Heart disease is a preventable health condition that kills far too many people each year in our country. If we want to change these statistics, then we need to take action. By taking small steps, making some changes, and committing to a healthier lifestyle, we can protect ourselves as well as our friends and family from the dangers that heart disease poses.

Guest Author: Caitlin Hoff, Health & Safety Investigator, ConsumerSafety.org

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