Are You at Risk for Heart Disease?

Are You at Risk for Heart Disease?

Everyone should be concerned about their heart health. Each year more than 600,000 Americans die of heart disease. In the United States a heart attack strikes every 40 seconds -- that's roughly 800,000 heart attacks each year.

Your primary care provider is your main resource for preventive health care. Scheduling and attending routine check-ups plays a vital role in staying healthy.

At Total Care Family Practice, our primary care physician, Evan Allen, MD, encourages patients to be proactive and take steps to prevent chronic disease. Routine check-ups can catch problems like elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which are major risk factors for heart disease

Once you're familiar with the risk factors, you can take action and make the appropriate changes to keep your heart healthy.

Understanding your risks

There's no single cause of heart disease. Instead, a combination of factors contribute to the overall likelihood of developing heart disease. Preventing heart disease starts with knowing your risk factors so that you can make positive changes to reduce your risk.

Lifestyle factors

Fortunately the power to lower your heart disease risk is in your hands. Heart disease is considered modifiable. This means there are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing heart disease. 

You can make positive changes in your lifestyle. Here are the primary lifestyle factors that contribute to your risk for heart disease, and what you can do about it.

Poor diet

The foods you eat on a regular basis have a profound impact on how you feel and function. What you eat influences risk factors such as your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight. People with high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure, as well as those who are overweight are much more likely to develop heart disease.

Eating too much added sugar, excess salt, too much saturated fat, too few vegetables, too little fiber, and not enough fruit is a recipe for increased heart disease risk. Adopting a healthy diet now can go a long way in reducing your risk of heart disease in the future. 

Focusing on fresh and frozen whole foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruit, unsaturated fats, and lean proteins is good for your heart. A healthy diet helps keep cholesterol within a healthy range, maintain a normal weight, keep your blood pressure normal, and helps to regulate your blood sugar.

Lack of exercise

Watching television in moderation is unlikely to have serious health consequences. However, a couch potato lifestyle is harmful to your heart health. Your body is meant to move. Exercise keeps your heart and muscles strong, and when your heart is strong it doesn't have to work as hard to circulate blood. 

This keeps your blood pressure normal and helps your body use energy efficiently. When you work your muscles, your cells use glucose better, which helps regulate blood sugar. Exercise also helps to regulate cholesterol.

If you aren’t used to exercising and you don't know where to start, you can start by simply walking. You'd be surprised how beneficial walking can be for your heart health, and overall well-being. Walking just 30 minutes a day on most days lowers your risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases.

Carrying excess weight

More than 70% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese -- and these numbers continue to rise. Fortunately, adopting healthy habits such as a nutritious diet and regular exercise help to maintain a normal weight. 

When you start to make positive changes in certain areas, the benefits trickle down to other areas. If you're overweight, it's important to talk to your provider about steps you can take to bring your weight within a healthy range. 

Smoking and excess alcohol

If you currently smoke, it's important that you make a commitment to stop. Smoking has a detrimental impact on many body systems, including your blood vessels, and is a major risk factor for heart disease.

If you've tried quitting in the past without success, there are resources and treatments available to help you to quit. Ask us about programs and medication that can help you quit smoking.

Excess alcohol consumption, especially drinking too much at once, raises heart disease risk. In fact, the more you drink at one time, the higher your risk of developing heart disease. If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation. Limit your alcohol intake to one drink or less a day for women and two drinks or less a day for men. 

Count on Dr. Allen and our team at Total Care Family Practice to help you keep your heart in tip-top shape. To learn more, and for a heart health check-up, give us a call at 702-766-9845 to schedule an appointment. New and existing patients can also use our online booking form.

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