American Heart Month: How to Prevent Heart Disease
Heart disease is a leading cause of death for Americans. According to Healthline, 647,000 Americans die from heart disease every year.
American Heart Month is when we take some time to focus on our cardiovascular health. Heart disease is unique from other illnesses, because you can help prevent it from happening, when you make healthy lifestyle choices.
Who is at risk of Heart Disease?
Heart disease is unique from many other illnesses, because it’s the number one cause of death for all races and ethnicities.
According to Healthline, heart disease caused 23.7% of deaths in white individuals, and 23.5% of deaths in Black individuals. See below graphic for the rates of heart disease diagnoses in the United States in 2017:
Image obtained from Healthline.
There are several risk factors that increase one’s chances of getting heart disease. Roughly half of all individuals diagnosed with heart disease present at least one of the following:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Heart disease is also largely linked to:
- Excessive drinking
- Poor diet and nutrition
- Lack of exercise
Here are some healthy heart tips to implement if you want to help prevent heart disease, and live your longest and healthiest life:
I know we probably sound like a broken record, but regularly exercising is key to living a long and healthy life.
In order to improve your cardiovascular health, it’s crucial you make exercise part of your daily routine. Implement systems in your daily life that motivate you to get a workout in.
Some systems you could incorporate include putting on your workout clothes right when you get back from work, so you’re more likely to go to the gym.
It also includes watching your favorite show on Netflix, while you’re on the treadmill. This motivates you to get the workout in, because you also get to watch your favorite show.
Some specific exercises that help boost your heart health include:
- Aerobic exercises
- Resistance training and strength workouts
- Stretching and flexibility focused workouts
Some aerobic exercises that help boost cardiovascular health, include brisk walking, running, swimming, or cycling.
The goal of these exercises is to get your heart-rate pumping and is something that should be practiced at least 30 minutes a day—ideally 5 days a week.
Resistance Training and Strength Workouts
Lifting free weights, using weighing machines, or using resistance bands to supplement your workouts—are a great way to focus on resistance and strength workouts.
Experts recommend doing this 2 non-consecutive days of the week. Non-consecutive days of the week help prevent soreness and give you the strength you need to get the most out of your workout.
Stretching and Flexibility Focused Workouts
Stretching and flexibility focused workouts are unique from the other two types of exercises—because they don’t directly help prevent heart disease. However, they are critical because they keep your muscles and joints free from pain, so you can get the most out of your aerobic and resistance/strength workouts.
You can always practice regularly stretching at home, attend a yoga or tai chi class focused on stretching, or follow alongside a stretching/flexibility routine on youtube.
Heart Disease and Alcohol Use
Excessive alcohol use largely contributes to the likelihood of being diagnosed with heart disease.
When you excessively drink alcohol in the long term, the heart muscle is thinned and weakened. When the heart muscle is not working properly, it impacts its ability to pump blood. This is life-threatening as it can lead to many different types of heart disease—including heart failure.
According to Healthline, men should not have more than 2 alcoholic beverages in a day, and women should not have more than 1 alcoholic beverage a day.
Manage your Stress Levels
Excessive levels of stress are never good for the body. Stress is known to weaken the immune system, and have negative implications on your overall health in the long term.
Managing your stress is crucial in helping prevent heart disease.
Try implementing a meditation or yoga practice focused on mindfulness. If these practices aren’t for you, even implementing regular exercise in your routine can help manage stress.
There are also non-physical exercises you can do to help manage your stress. Journaling is a great tool to help let out your thoughts, worries, and concerns so you can process them.
Regular therapy is also a great way to help voice your anxieties and concerns to an unbiased party, so they don’t cause excessive stress in the long term.
Keeping up with regular doctor’s appointments also helps keep stress levels in check. Voice any concerns about your health to your doctor, and remember these 3 important questions to ask during your doctor’s visit.
When we regularly go and visit the doctor, we can help catch any potential illnesses early, and learn about specific preventative measures we can take. It also gives you peace of mind knowing that you’re taking ownership of your health, and this helps reduce overall stress.
Need help finding a physician that works well for you? Checkout Connect2Heal to find medical providers that fit your lifestyle. Connect2Heal is focused on bridging the gap between people of color—who are traditionally not treated with an equal level of care throughout the healthcare system—and physicians.
Become Knowledgeable about your Health
Self-awareness is key to living a long and healthy life. It’s crucial you know about your own health and are familiar with factors that may make you predisposed to certain illnesses.
For example, it’s important that you’re regularly getting bloodwork done, going to the physician, and monitoring vitals—such as your blood pressure—to make sure everything is normal. Understanding your blood pressure, your overall health, and where you need to focus your attention will help you prevent heart disease and other illnesses.
If you have questions about certain blood work results or other health concerns, it’s crucial you’re bringing up those questions to your doctor.
It’s your job to stay informed about your body, so you can live a long and healthy life.