In the field of medical science that deals with heart disease and how to prevent it, you hear a lot about risk factors. According to Delray Beach cardiologists, these are either traits or behaviors that medical science has proven increase your risk of developing heart disease. The risk factors don’t exactly cause heart disease, but the more of them you have, the more likely it is that you will develop heart disease.
Some of these risk factors – including a few of the most important ones such as your age, your gender, your race, and whether your family has a history of heart disease – you can’t do anything about. You’re stuck with them. Fortunately, however, there are many other known risk factors that you can do something about, and thus lower your heart disease risk.
What are the biggest heart disease risk factors, and how do you lower them?
- High blood pressure. Hypertension is the most common and most widespread risk for heart disease. A third of the adults in America have a blood pressure over 140/90, which means they have a higher-than-normal risk of heart attack. The good news is that you can lower your high blood pressure – and thus your risk – via weight loss, exercise, and medication.
- High cholesterol levels. If you are over 50, you should know your cholesterol levels, and take steps to keep them within acceptable ranges. The higher your total cholesterol levels, the higher your likelihood of heart disease. Ideally, your total cholesterol level should be less than 200 mg/dl, your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels should be under 130 mg/dl, and your HDL (“good”) cholesterol should be greater than 40 mg/dl in men and 50 mg/dl in women.
- If you have diabetes, get it under control. The link between diabetes and heart disease is undeniable, so when your doctor tells you to get your diabetes and blood sugar levels under control, he’s trying to keep your heart healthy, too.
- Stop Smoking! If you smoke cigarettes, you should stop. Period. Continue to smoke, and you increase your risk of heart attack with every cigarette. Stop, and you can reduce your risk of a heart attack and other cardiovascular disease by over half within a year.
- Lose weight. Every extra pound you carry around increases your risk of having a heart attack. Your Palm Beach cardiologist can help you find a diet program that will work to help you lose weight and keep it off.
- Become more active. One of the most serious risks for heart disease is what you’re doing right now – sitting. If you have a sedentary lifestyle and get less than 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, you are drastically increasing your risk of developing heart disease. So get out and get more exercise – it’s fun, and it could save your life.
- Eat more sensibly. Stay away from fast foods and junk foods high in salt, saturated fats, trans fats, edible cholesterol, and refined sugars. Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats and fishes. Making these simple changes in your diet can add decades to your lifespan.
- Control your stress levels. Studies have indicated that one of the most prevalent “triggers” for heart attacks is uncontrolled anger and stress. If you have a lot of stress and tension in your life, work with your Palm Beach heart doctor to find techniques and support groups that can help you keep calm, and thus help keep you healthy.
Finally, the most important thing you can do to reduce your heart disease risk is to see your cardiologist and get a checkup. If you’re over the age of 50 and you haven’t had a heart health checkup in a couple of years, you really should pick up the phone and call some of the top cardiologists in Palm Beach at South Palm Cardiovascular Associates today at 561-515-0080. Checkups only take a few minutes, but they can literally save your life by detecting small problems before they become big problems.