Coronary heart disease is the number one killer of Americans today. For that reason, February has been deemed American Heart Month. It’s time to bring awareness to this disease and educate people on what they can do to prevent heart disease from developing. Making positive, healthy changes to your life can decrease your chances of becoming a statistic.
Heart disease is a term that includes many different diseases that affect your heart. The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease, or hardening of the arteries. This is caused by a buildup of plaque inside the coronary arteries. There are many other types of heart disease, but Coronary heart disease is the one that most often results in a heart attack. Although heart disease symptoms vary according to which type of heart disease you have, there are some specific signs that indicate you may be experiencing a heart attack:
- squeezing sensation, pressure or pain in the chest
- pain/ discomfort in one or both arms
- pain in back, jaw, neck or stomach
- shortness of breath
- nausea and lightheadedness
There are many risk factors that can lead to heart disease. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chances are of developing heart disease. Below is a list of common risk factors:
- Obesity/ over weight
- Poor diet
- Age- the older you get, your chances of getting heart disease increases
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Many types of heart diseases can be prevented by adding healthy lifestyle changes. There are many lifestyle changes that you can make right now to reduce your risk of developing or delaying heart disease:
- Lose weight- Overweight people are much more prone to developing heart disease. Talk to your doctor about coming up with a weight loss plan that works for you.
- Maintain a healthy weight- If you are overweight, you will need to not only drop the pounds but you will then need to maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat right- as with anyone that is trying to lose weight, you have to do it the healthy way. You will need to eat a diet that is low in trans fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar. You will need to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Make sure you are eating whole grains, beans, lean meats, poultry and fish.
- Don’t smoke- If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, you will need to quit. Talk to your doctor about what would be an effective stop-smoking method for you. Additionally, try to avoid second hand smoke.
- Control your blood pressure- eating healthy foods, exercising, avoiding alcohol and not smoking are all ways that can lower your blood pressure.
- Lower your cholesterol- you can try to lower your cholesterol naturally by adding certain foods and swapping out others. Add more fiber to your diet; oatmeal, fruit veggies and whole grains. Cut back on red meat and add more fish and lean meats. Also, you should start taking an Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement and exercise more. Exercise has been proven to lower cholesterol.
- Exercise- exercise has been proven to significantly decrease your chances of developing heart disease. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, 5-6 days a week. Brisk walking is a great place to start.
- Managing stress- stress is a very big contributing factor to one’s health. Find ways that help you de-stress; yoga, exercise and meditation have all been proven to lower stress levels.
By making positive lifestyle changes, you can help to reduce your chances of developing heart disease. February 3rd is National Wear Red Day. In honor of Heart Disease Awareness Month, make sure you proudly wear red to help spread awareness about this deadly disease.