I'm At Risk for Heart Problems — What Should I Do?

I'm At Risk for Heart Problems — What Should I Do?

On a typical day, you may come across multiple references to the term “heart healthy” — from the time you pour your cereal in the morning to notes on the restaurant menu at night and almost every moment in between. And for good reason. 

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, a dubious distinction it has held since 1950. In fact, each year about one out of every five deaths are due to heart disease.

While the statistics are sobering, the good news is that a whopping 90% of heart disease can be chalked up to risk factors within your control, says the cardiovascular team at Cardio Metabolic Institute. In this blog, we take a look at lifestyle and modifiable factors to help you get more heart healthy.

Heart disease vs. cardiovascular disease

A great place to start unpacking this discussion is to clarify some terminology. Specifically, are heart disease and cardiovascular disease the same thing?

While it may seem like these medical terms are used interchangeably, they’re different. Heart disease is a catch-all name for the full spectrum of maladies that result in function or operational heart problems like heart attacks or congestive heart failure as well as physical issues with parts of the heart or vascular problems.

Cardiovascular disease is a type of heart disease — in fact, it’s the most common form. Cardiovascular disease includes the collection of conditions that result in blood flow problems to the heart that can result in heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

Keep your blood pressure under control

When it comes to your heart health, blood pressure ranks as one of the most important risk factors you can control. High blood pressure is the No. 1 cause of heart disease and stroke because it damages the lining of your arteries, making them more vulnerable to the buildup of plaque, which ultimately narrows the arteries that lead to your heart and brain.

Unlike other medical conditions, high blood pressure itself rarely has outward symptoms. So while half of all American adults have hypertension, many don’t know it and only learn about their diagnosis after they suffer a heart attack or are being treated for an associated condition like kidney disease or a lingering leg ulcer that won’t heal. 

Know your numbers. Get your blood pressure checked regularly, and seek treatment if it’s not within normal range.

Eat a healthy diet

Not surprisingly, your nutrition plays a big role in your heart health. Good nutrition not only can mitigate your risk for heart problems, but it also does wonders for getting to and maintaining a healthy blood pressure. 

Think well-balanced meals with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Just say no to fat-laden and processed foods as well as fried and salty foods. Our highly skilled registered dieticians at Cardio Metabolic Institute can help you create healthy meal plans and shopping lists and even provide healthy cooking tips.

Get up and get moving

What’s particularly great about tackling the risk factors for heart issues is that the process tends to have a layered effect. So while you’re doing things like eating healthier, getting active helps not only your heart health, but also your blood pressure. 

Aim for about 30-60 minutes of exercise each day. Taking short walks, doing low-impact exercise like swimming, or even doing household chores like yard work counts. 

Find an activity that you enjoy, and stick with it. Not only does regular exercise help keep your blood pressure in check, but it also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which is a very good thing for your heart health.

Get a good night’s sleep

While you may be more familiar with the importance of sleep in terms of your brain health and allowing your body and brain to refresh and restore, a good night’s sleep also has an impact on your heart health. In fact, issues like sleep apnea have not only been connected to a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, but also to all those risk factors that can result in heart issues like high blood pressure and poor diet choices.

If you’re at risk for heart problems and want to learn more about steps you can take to mitigate your risk, contact Cardio Metabolic Institute. You can call the location near you — in Somerset, Monroe Township, East Brunswick or Edison, New Jersey — or book your appointment online today.

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