7 Ways to Help Prevent Heart Disease

We know that scare tactics are a lousy way to start a conversation, but when it comes to heart disease, it’s worth understanding the frightening numbers. Each year in the United States, 600,000 people succumb to heart disease, a number that is far too high since many of these deaths were preventable.

At Lagniappe Medical Clinic, our goal is simple: To provide our patients with the tools they need to lead happy, healthy lives long into the future.

To that end, we’ve pulled together a quick list of seven steps you can take to prevent heart disease.

1. Eating for heart health

The first step in preventing heart disease is eating the right foods. For your heart to stay strong, it needs a variety of minerals and nutrients, like those found in fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and lean meats, like skinless chicken and fish.

Speaking of fish, aim for two servings of oily fish, such as tuna and salmon, each week. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamins A and D, all essential to heart health.

2. Foods to avoid

When it comes to your heart’s health, what you don’t eat is almost as important as what you do eat. To protect your heart, steer clear of foods high in saturated fat and eliminate trans fat from your diet. Steps like limiting the intake of red meat, and when you do splurge, opting for lean cuts, will serve you well. In fact, go a step further and strive to eat some meatless meals throughout the week.

Another critical step is to reduce your sodium intake by using fresh seasonings and herbs to flavor your food.

 3. Increase your exercise

Another key to preventing heart disease is to keep active, including getting some exercise most days of the week. The American Heart Association recommends at least  2.5 hours of moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk, or 1.25 hours of vigorous exercise, like jogging or biking, each week.

In addition, engage in strength-training exercises at least two days a week. If you haven’t been physically active for some time, start slowly and build up your endurance.

While heart disease may not be a threat among children, we recommend that you give them the best start in life with at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

4. Keep up your medical care

If you want to give your heart the best care possible, you need to keep up with your annual check-ups with us. Through these routine medical appointments, also called well visits, we monitor and track things like your blood pressure, heart rate, and maybe even your cholesterol levels.

These factors indicate whether you’re at risk for heart disease, and they allow us to intervene and take proactive steps to avoid complications like heart attack and stroke.

5. Quit smoking

You likely already know that smoking increases your risk for a wide array of health issues, including heart disease. Don’t put off quitting any longer. We can recommend the best ways to go about it. Beating the nicotine habit lowers your risk for a heart attack and stroke immediately, as well as leads to improvements in your blood pressure and heart rate, which reduces your risk for heart disease.

Even more, if someone you live or work with smokes, avoid being around them when they do. Those who regularly exposed to secondhand smoke have a 30% higher likelihood of developing heart disease.

6.Relax

Stress, like smoking, increases your risk for many ailments, including heart disease. That’s because long periods of heavy  stress elevates your blood pressure and pulse and can damage your artery walls. Your best defense is to participate in stress reduction activities such as meditation or volunteering. Research has shown both help reduce stress, as do yoga and walking in the park or woods. Take time to unplug and unwind every day and practice deep breathing.

7.Know your history

Familiarity with your family’s heart history can help us better understand your risk of developing heart disease. Having a relative with the condition increases your risk, especially if the relative is a parent or sibling, Therefore, it’s important for us to vigilantly monitor your heart health.

If you know you need to work on your heart health, or just have more questions, please call one of our clinics in Columbia, Blythewood, or West Columbia, South Carolina. Or you can use the online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.

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