How To Prevent Heart Disease: 11 Lifestyle Changes To Reduce Your Risk

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Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. Each year, over 800,000 people have heart attacks, and one person dies from heart disease every 34 seconds. Heart disease is the number one killer among women. In fact, it kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. So what can you do about heart disease? One thing you can do is you can change some of your habits. Yes, something as simple as changing some of your daily routines can reduce your risk factors for heart disease. Sound too good to be true? It's not. And we're going to talk about it because I'm going show you how to prevent heart disease and give you 11 lifestyle changes to reduce your risk factors.

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How To Prevent Heart Disease: 11 Lifestyle Changes You Can Start Today!

how to prevent heart disease

 

1.  Manage Your Mental Health

It's important to prioritize your mental health and manage any depression you may have.  You also want to reduce your stress and reduce your anxiety, this will help to reduce your risk factors for heart disease. When someone has anxiety and stress, that causes stress hormones to increase, like cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones can lead to a constriction or a tightening of heart arteries, which can increase your risk factors for strokes as well as heart disease. So make sure that you manage your mental health, seek professional help, and do activities that reduce anxiety.

manage your mental health

There's actually a syndrome that can develop from poorly managed mental health called "Broken Heart Syndrome" or Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, also called stress cardiomyopathy. This results from extreme emotion or stress and literally a part of the heart stops pumping properly and you will have a heart disease directly related to extreme stress and not managing your mental health.

2. Incorporate Mindfulness Practices

Incorporate mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation. Not only is it helping you with your physical health and improving your cardiovascular health, but yoga and meditation, along with breathing exercises reduce your stress levels. When you do slow deep breathing, that actually causes your heart rate to slow down and it helps to reduce your blood pressure, which of course will reduce your risk for heart disease. Be sure to watch my video on how to reduce your blood pressure naturally after you finish reading this article.

 

3. Avoid Prolonged Sitting

When you sit for extended periods of time, especially when you have a lot of screen time like watching TV, working at your desk, being on the phone, or playing video games, it has been shown to put you at an increased risk for heart disease. In fact, there was a study published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that showed that people who had screen time of four hours or more compared to people who had less than two hours of screen time per day, the ones with the longer screen time had a very distinct definite increased risk for heart disease.

In fact, they studied 4,000 patients and made these comparisons independent of other risk factors like smoking, obesity, and high BMI. They found that if you had high screen time or prolonged sitting, you had a greater risk for heart disease. They also studied certain inflammatory markers like CRP and C-reactive protein and found that people who had four hours or more of screen time each day had twice as much CRP as those who had less than two hours.

In other words, they had more inflammation in their bodies. And we know that when you have high inflammation in your body, this can increase your risk for heart disease, plaque, and cholesterol to stick inside of inflamed vessels, and increase your risk for heart attacks.

So if you've been wondering how to prevent heart disease? Avoid prolonged sitting. You want to not only stand up throughout the day, at least every hour, but you want to move your body, move around.

4. Build A Strong Support System

When you have a strong support system of family, friends, loved ones, and people who encourage you, that is a way to reduce your risks for heart disease. Of course, being around people who are supportive can also decrease your stress. It can be encouraging for you to do things that make you feel happy.  Engage in joyful and happy activities that increase your endorphins and prioritize healthy habits, while surrounding yourself with a positive support system to prevent heart disease. So make sure you get in contact with those families and friends and keep those people in your life who are positive in adding to your heart health and mental health.

5. Prioritize Your Oral Health

Yes, keep your mouth clean. Don't be a "yuck mouth" because you don't brush. Studies have shown that having poor oral hygiene increases your risk for heart disease. According to the CDC, half of the adults over the age of 30 have gum disease and 70% of adults over the age of 65 have gum disease. So here's what happens. In your mouth, you have billions of organisms and billions of bacteria, and when you're not brushing regularly and you're not flossing, these bacteria will flourish.

prioritize your oral health

They'll thrive and you'll get some anaerobic bacteria, the bacteria that thrive where there's no oxygen in between your teeth when you don't floss properly, and this can lead to gum disease. Now here's what happens. If you get gum disease and you brush, you can get bleeding gums or gingivitis. Once you get the bleeding gums, you've opened up your blood vessels to those bacteria that can enter your bloodstream and get all over your body. When this occurs, you now have increased inflammation in your body and your heart vessels and this poor oral health can increase your risk for heart disease.

How to prevent heart disease by practicing good oral health? Make sure you're brushing two to three times per day and you're flossing at least once a day and make sure you see your dentist regularly to help you to prevent having heart disease and improve your oral health.

6. Address Your Gut Microbiome or Gut Health

Studies have linked having a healthy gut microbiome to having good heart health. So make sure you consult with your physician on a healthy anti-inflammatory diet that is filled with fiber, and fermented foods so you can have good gut health which can lead to good heart health.

7. A Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet can help you prevent heart disease. You want to make sure you have a diet that is low in saturated fats, low in trans fats, low in cholesterol, and low in added sugars. Added sugars can be really tricky, they can lead to inflammation and they can promote heart disease. Be sure to watch my video on what sugar does to your body - 7 dangerous side effects of sugar after you finish reading this article.

regular physical activity

8. Regular Physical Activity

You know you need regular cardiovascular activity and exercise in order to reduce your risk factors and help prevent heart disease. When you exercise, it helps you to maintain normal blood pressure and it helps you to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise also gets endorphins going and helps you to reduce stress and this can help to prevent heart disease.

According to the American Heart Association, the average adult should have at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. So that's like 30 minutes of exercise, five days per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.

9. Maintain A Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy BMI or body mass index can help prevent the risk factors associated with heart disease. Now, if you have a BMI that is 30 or greater, then you are considered to be a person who's living with obesity and we know that obesity is a risk factor for heart disease. Obesity can increase your risk factors for coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. Obesity can also increase your risk for pulmonary hypertension.

In fact, the American Heart Association reclassified living with obesity as being a major risk factor for heart disease. Consult with your physician to find the weight and body composition that is healthy for you and strive for maintaining that healthy weight to prevent heart disease.

stop smoking

10. Stop Smoking

Stop smoking cigarettes and stop using tobacco products please, because it has been a proven risk factor for heart disease. It can also lead to poor circulation, and claudication, like if you get those painful cramps in your legs.  As we know, smoking is a huge risk factor for many cancers, not just lung cancer, but also cervical cancer, and skin cancer. There's really no good news about cigarette smoking, so please stop.

11. Limit Your Consumption of Alcohol

When you drink excessive alcohol that can lead to high blood pressure, which of course can lead to heart disease. So you want to make sure that you drink in moderation or don't drink at all. The other thing is that when you have excessive alcohol use, it can actually lead to dilated cardiomyopathy. So limiting your alcohol consumption is another way to prevent heart disease.

Conclusion

Heart disease is a global health concern that affects millions of people worldwide. However, the good news is that there are many effective ways to reduce your risk of developing this condition. Incorporating regular exercise and a healthy diet into your daily routine can go a long way in promoting heart health. Remember to also make time for self-care and stress management.

It's very important that you consult with your physician to find out your personal risks for heart disease, and make sure you're up-to-date on all of your health screenings. By following these tips on how to prevent heart disease, you can take control of your health and live a longer, healthier happier life.

Dr. Frita - Frita McRae Fisher, M.D.
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