The number one killer in America is heart disease. Nearly 50 percent of American adults has cardiovascular disease and an overwhelming majority of cases are preventable. “We have this huge population at risk,” says Dr. Asimul Ansari of the TriHealth Heart Institute. “We have to find the higher-risk people so we can stave off a cardiac event, like a heart attack.”
Adopting a healthy lifestyle and making changes is a key component to improving and potentially saving your life or that of someone you love. Here are five heart-healthy ways to start your year off on the right foot.
It’s not an easy feat, but it’s one of the best decisions you can make for a heart-healthy lifestyle. Smoking and secondhand smoke are the cause of nearly one third of deaths from coronary heart disease , according to the American Heart Association. “Most people know smoking is ‘bad for you.’” says Robert Adams, cardiothoracic surgeon at TriHealth Heart Institute. “But there are many more health benefits you’ll reap when you choose to quit.”
Aside from the laundry list of more than 5,000 chemicals packed into cigarettes, carbon monoxide contributes to the hardening of the arteries. The AHA says carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal within 12 hours of your last cigarette and your risk of coronary heart disease will be the same as someone who never smoked within a year. Follow the American Heart Association’s five steps to quit smoking and talk to your doctor about your journey to quitting.
Everyone should take the time to exercise, particularly those with risk factors for heart disease. “Most people make the excuse that they don’t have time to visit the gym or complain about expense,” says Marshall Winner, a doctor with the TriHealth Heart Institute. “I like to run in Ault Park. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Cincinnati to exercise and enjoy life.”
Depending on your health status exercise guidelines vary, but a healthy person should be able to exercise five or six days a week at a moderately intense level for 20 to 30 minutes. Check for a gym at your workplace, some companies even provide or reimburse gym memberships.
When it comes to what you should be eating, start with a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, fish, and healthy oils. This type of diet has the potential to make as much of an effect as taking a cholesterol medication.
Our body is programmed to respond to stressors. However, c Plus, stress can have a direct impact on your heart by raising blood pressure and increasing cholesterol. A few ways to manage stress include practicing meditation or yoga, getting regular exercise, and spending time outdoors.
Don’t know where to start? See a doctor at TriHealth.