Heart health shouldn't be taken for granted, especially when heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women according to the CDC. Annually, around 600,000 people die from a form of heart disease in the United States. Coronary heart disease, in particular, kills 385,000 people everyyear.
Yes, these are grim numbers. But on the bright side, heart disease is preventable for many people. Though some forms of heart disease are congenital by nature or triggered by hereditary factors, other forms are caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices like physical inactivity, a poor diet, cigarette and tobacco use, and excessive consumption of alcohol. When these behaviors persist over a long time, they can have a negative effect on the heart's health.
High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high sugar levels also increase the risk of heart disease. Again, these medical conditions may be caused by bad genes, but they may also be exacerbated by bad habits. If you're already susceptible to heart disease because of your family history, then don't make it worse by living an unhealthy lifestyle.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so start living a healthy lifestyle. Don't wait -- do it now. It isn't hard when you follow these steps:
- For non-smokers, don't start smoking ever. For smokers, quit immediately. But quitting can be challenging at first, so letSmokeFree.gov help you break the bad habit.
- Incorporate physical activity in your daily life. If you're too busy to go to the gym, go on a brisk walk for 10 minutes. Repeat this three times a day, five days a week. Increase to 30-minute walks. You can do this during your lunch break, before or after work.
- If you're already being treated for early signs of heart disease, strictly follow your doctor's orders and take your medication. Have a regular checkup to get your progress monitored.
- Eat a healthy diet consisting of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. In line with this, try to stay at a healthy weight. You'll look and feel better.
- Monitor your cholesterol level, blood pressure, and if necessary, your sugar level. Work with your doctor to manage any of your health conditions that can affect heart health.
- Educate yourself by learning the warning signs of heart attack. Early action is key to saving a life, whether yours or someone else's. When you feel the following symptoms, call 911 right away:
- Pain or discomfort in the chest
- Pain in the upper body or discomfort in the back, neck, jaw, arms, or upper stomach
- Nausea, dizziness or lightheadedness
- Cold sweat
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Your heart never gets a break. The least you can do is give it the care it deserves. It's for your benefit, too. In the end, a healthy heart will help you get more out of life.