Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. While the term “heart disease” collectively refers to several types of coronary and vascular disorders, these cardiac conditions are often linked by common health and lifestyle risk factors.
With expert care and a focus on prevention, some varieties of heart disease can be avoided. Preventing cardiac conditions starts with understanding your personal risk factors, such as family history, cholesterol, diet and other lifestyle behaviors, and making a commitment to heart-healthy living.
Impact of Lipids on Your Heart Health
Lipids are fats that are found in the blood. If these fat particles build up in the blood, it is called high cholesterol, which is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Nearly 40 percent of American adults struggle with high cholesterol, but learning to manage it properly can be the key to protecting your heart health.
Understanding your lipid profile can help you better manage your heart health, but it’s not the only factor you should consider. Taking control of your heart health also includes familiarizing yourself with the important numbers that are used to measure it. Regularly checking your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels – which can all be taken at home – will show you the direct impacts of the lifestyle changes you’re making. Checking these numbers on a regular basis also increases your chances of detecting a problem early, allowing for immediate and more effective intervention.
Limit Your Risk of Heart Disease
Making lasting adjustments to the key lifestyle factors that contribute to your personal risk levels can help to drastically reduce the likelihood for heart attack, heart failure, and other cardiac diseases in the future. Healthier living doesn’t have to involve complex changes. In fact, making smaller, healthier choices consistently can make a big difference:
- Getting more exercise – The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Inactivity is linked with higher risks for heart disease, and other serious health conditions like type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Finding time in your schedule for more physical activity can go a long way toward supporting your healthy living goals.
- Choosing a heart healthy diet – Nutrition plays a major role in improving and maintaining your heart health. Simple dietary changes can help you lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, decrease your blood sugar levels, and eliminate the types of fat in the body which place unhealthy strain on your arteries. Adopting a heart-healthy diet is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your risks for cardiac disease.
- Quitting smoking – Smoking is harmful for every organ system in the human body – the heart is no exception. Regular smoking leads to higher levels of triglycerides (fat in the blood), damaged blood vessels, and plaque buildup. Each of these factors increases the risk for heart disease and stroke exponentially. Equally alarming, secondhand smoke inhalation increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease by 25-30 percent.
- Limit alcohol – Moderation is key when it comes to healthy alcohol consumption. A glass of wine with dinner or a few drinks here and there are fine, but excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to a higher blood pressure and an increased likelihood for heart disease or other serious health problems.
- Manage stress – Stress takes a major toll on the body, and can eventually place dangerous levels of strain on the heart. Reducing your stress levels with exercise, good sleep, and mindfulness practices will help to lower your blood pressure and can help eliminate excess stress hormones in the body.
Prevention and Proactive Intervention
By working closely with patients to help them identify, understand, and manage their unique risks for cardiovascular disease, we are empowering them to recognize and respond to symptoms or warning signs long before serious complications arise. Even if a patient is unaware or uncertain about their risk, there are still screening options and vascular health scoring assessments that we consider during our initial discussions. This emphasis on preventive care prompts patients to be proactive with their healthy living goals and essential routine screenings. It also encourages them to seek interventional care sooner rather than later.
It is crucial for patients to have open conversations with their physician about any health concerns. Transparent relationships between patient and physician lead to a better understanding of cardiac diagnosis, treatments, and rehabilitation options, resulting in more positive outcomes for both patient and physician.
Our expert cardiac care teams are committed to restoring each patient to their highest level of heart heath through holistic care, ardent risk management, and ongoing support for healthier living. Visit Lankenau Heart Institute to learn more about preserving your heart health.