I Have a Family History of Heart Disease. What Do I Do Now?

It’s true that genetic factors can leave you more susceptible to developing heart disease, but diet and lifestyle factors play a much bigger role. Research consistently shows that leading a healthy lifestyle is the most important factor in lowering heart disease risk. 

At Total Care Family Practice, Evan Allen, MD, and the rest of our highly skilled team in Henderson, Nevada, provide comprehensive care to the entire family. Our team places a strong emphasis on preventive care, and this includes routine checkups to ensure that your heart is healthy. 

While genetics may play a role in heart disease risk, they are targeted steps you can take to steer your heart health in the right direction. 

Heart disease risk factors

The science is clear, up to 90% of heart disease cases are preventable through diet and lifestyle. A handful of factors play the strongest role in the risk of developing heart disease — and they’re all diet and lifestyle related. These factors are being overweight, leading a sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol, poor diet, smoking, and poor sleep.

This means that regardless of your family history of heart disease, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by making the right diet and lifestyle changes to support heart health. 

Adopt a heart-healthy diet 

What’s in your fridge (and what isn’t) plays a vital role in heart health. What you eat is the best place to start when it comes to protecting your heart health. Diets that prioritize plant foods have time and again shown the most benefit in reducing the risk of heart disease.

Plant-based diets emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and heart-healthy fats. This promotes weight management, healthy cholesterol, normal blood pressure, and healthy arteries, all of which keep your heart protected.

Commit to regular exercise

A lifestyle with little physical activity is a major risk factor for heart disease. Getting regular exercise has a multitude of benefits for not only your heart, but your overall well-being. Physical activity boosts mood, promotes good sleep, reduces the risk of depression and anxiety, contributes to weight management, and boosts self-image. 

Walking, running, and swimming are all exercises that keep your heart and circulatory system strong. Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity each week. Adding strength training can improve heart health further.

Monitor and manage stress 

Chronic stress has been identified as a risk factor for heart disease. Prolonged stress promotes inflammation throughout the body, lowers good cholesterol, and raises blood pressure, all of which are bad news for your heart. Incorporating stress-reducing techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga, are good ways to combat stress. 

Don’t underestimate the benefits of having a strong social circle and engaging in social activities. Something as simple as sharing a meal with someone boosts health. People with strong social connections are shown to have lower stress levels and a lower risk of heart disease, according to a Harvard Health study.

Regular check-ups and screenings 

Routine medical check-ups are essential to heart health, especially as you age. At these visits our team can identify potential issues like elevated blood pressure, cholesterol imbalances, or other issues that can harm heart health. 

By recognizing the influence of genetics while also harnessing the power of a healthy lifestyle, you can keep your heart strong for years to come. Rely on our Total Care Family Practice team to help you stay heart healthy. Call 702-541-8240 to schedule your next visit.

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