Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors
If you’ve been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease this means there is damage to your heart’s major blood vessels, which increases your risk for a heart attack. Some contributing factors to your condition may be unavoidable such as a family history of heart disease, ethnicity (especially if you’re of Asian or African descent), and age.
Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, especially if not kept under control, are also contributing factors and it’s important to manage these with a physician’s guidance.
The Good News: Factors You Control
There are many risk factors within your control and with a healthier lifestyle your risk of cardiovascular disease can be decreased significantly.
You’re probably aware that tobacco use can damage your heart and lungs. But did you know that even if you’re a long-time smoker, quitting can still benefit your health? If you began smoking when you were young, are a heavy smoker or female, the risks of cardiovascular disease are even greater. It’s never too late to get help and stop smoking! This is the single most important thing that WILL lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Weight & Inactivity
Being overweight contributes to a multitude of health problems, including increasing the risk of heart disease by 50%. By maintaining a healthy weight and developing even a moderate exercise plan that gets your heart rate up for about 20 minutes each day, you can decrease your risk for heart disease, sleep better, and have more energy. Even without joining a gym, you can increase your activity by taking 20-30 minute walks around your neighborhood or the mall, using the stairs instead of elevators, or riding a bike.
Everyone loves a good meal and even healthy food can be delicious! Changes in your diet such as lowering your salt and saturated fat intake, eating smaller portions, and cutting back on sweets can make a difference in decreasing your risk for heart disease. So can snacking on veggies or fruit instead of chips and soda. Need some help with healthier eating? Ask your physician to refer you to a dietician who can tailor a diet to your needs. By making small changes over time, your choices will become your new lifestyle of healthier living!
Limiting your alcohol intake to one drink a day or less can have many health benefits. Alcoholic drinks are high in calories and can raise the level of fat in your blood, leading to heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure. Excessive drinking can even lead to stroke. By limiting yourself to having one glass of wine or a cocktail then switching to non-alcoholic, non-sugary drinks, you can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.