by Chris Brown, M.D.
Heart attacks are the number one killer in the United States followed by strokes as the third leading cause of death. The major risk factors for cardiovascular disease are age, male sex, smoking, high blood pressure, family history, abnormal cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and inactivity. So what can we do to decrease our risk? According to the American Heart Association, a healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons we have to fight cardiovascular disease.
First, you can work on diet and exercise. It is recommended that everyone attempt 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. In addition to exercise, try to pay attention to your diet and the number of calories you eat. Don’t eat more calories than you can burn each day, and cut back the number of calories by reducing portion sizes. Foods that are high
in cholesterol and sodium should be avoided. One should eat more fruits and vegetables which are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fish should also be a part of your diet because it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your risk of developing blockages. Also try limiting foods that contain fats and trans fatty acids.
Smoking increases your risk of developing heart blockages two to four times that of a
non-smoker. If you have the desire to quit, there are several aids that are available to help you. The good news is once you quit smoking, you reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks significantly, and will be at the same level of risk as non-smokers within a
It is important that everyone check his or her blood pressure regularly as hypertension
is a risk factor for heart disease. It usually does not have any symptoms and has been nicknamed the “Silent Killer”
Diabetes increases the risk of developing heart blockages. Watching your diet and exercise can decrease the chances of developing diabetes.
By working on a healthier diet and lifestyle, you can make a difference and help decrease your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. You can assess your risk for developing heart disease on Providence Hospital’s web site.
Log on: www.providencehospital.org and click on the red HEART aware risk evaluation box.