The leading cause of death in the US is heart disease, with over 500,000 deaths recorded yearly. The casualties of this condition outnumber other deadly illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and kidney failure.
Heart ailments are also a leading cause of physical disability that immobilizes many people. These staggering statistics prove the existence of numerous risk factors. Unfortunately, many people do not even know they are at risk or how to prevent themselves from becoming victims.
The leading causes of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are clinical factors such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
The behavioral traits that also heighten the risk of affliction include physical inactivity, smoking, and poor dietary choices.
Before we delve into the preventative measures against common heart issues, let’s look at some inevitable causes that play a role in causing heart conditions.
Risk Factors Beyond Your Control
In some cases, heart problems may occur even when you follow all the proper preventative measures and live a healthy life. So what are some of these circumstances that make you more susceptible to heart issues?
Some health conditions are hereditary. If you have one or more family members with heart disease, your chances of developing the same condition are higher. Inherited risk factors are a reality, especially for congenital heart disease and coronary artery disease.
It’s always advisable to understand your family’s medical history to know if you’re susceptible to any health conditions.
Research is still ongoing on this matter, but preliminary studies show that males are more likely to suffer heart ailments due to biological differences. For instance, plaque build-up in blood vessels occurs in larger blood vessels for men, which puts them at greater risk.
Females also have a higher concentration of the hormone estrogen, which offers some protection from heart problems.
Some groups ethnic groups have a higher probability of developing heart disease. Although this research is not conclusive, studies show that the prevalence of cardiovascular problems in some ethnicities points to genetics and lifestyle.
Your chances of developing heart disease increase as your age advances. Men aged 45 and above and women above 55 years are at greater risk. When you hit middle age, make it a habit to have comprehensive health checks to identify heart anomalies before it’s too late.
How to Protect Yourself From Common Heart Issues
So what are some practical things you can do to lessen your odds of suffering from heart complications? The following are some of them.
There is plenty of information about cardiovascular conditions, and you are free to carry out your research on the subject. Ensure that you access credible online and offline resources to avoid misinformation.
If you are interested in pursuing a professional course in cardiovascular health or other medical studies, get proper advanced life support certification that is nationally accredited. Ensure that the course offers full access to case study and training materials for a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter.
Many credible courses are fully accessible online, which means you can access the coursework anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.
Once you find a reputable education provider, the valuable training can open up new rewarding career paths.
Maintain a Reasonable Weight
Obesity is linked to heart conditions and is an underlying issue that puts you at risk. Excess body weight taxes the circulatory system, severely straining blood vessels. Obesity is also linked to other harmful conditions that contribute to cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, and strokes.
Regular exercise is the most effective way to prevent excess fat accumulation and keep your body fit. Ideally, it would be best to exercise at least three times a week. Try combining aerobic activity with weight training or muscle toning for the best results.
Consult your doctor before starting a regular exercise routine. You can also get a personal trainer to guide you if you have the means.
Watch What You Eat
Saturated fats found in many processed foods contain elements that build up along the walls of blood vessels. These fatty deposits form plaque, which blocks blood vessels and eventually leads to cardiovascular ailments.
Limit all high-sodium and sugary foods and cut them off entirely if you can. Ensure that your daily food intake consists of whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruit.
A healthy diet also helps you put your cholesterol levels in check and can help regulate your blood pressure.
Avoid fad diets and stick to the tried-and-tested
Like other muscles in your body, your heart can become stronger with regular physical activity. Frequent exercise strengthens the heart’s walls, enabling it to pump blood more efficiently without strain.
Exercise enhances blood circulation, which keeps blood vessels flexible and healthy.
If you have some mild signs of heart disease, the good news is that an active lifestyle can significantly reduce the likelihood of heart failure. But good results can only be achieved with discipline and consistency.
You don’t have to overthink your workout strategy. Sometimes a brisk 30-minute walk is all you need to get your blood flowing.
Remember to get advice from your doctor about your exercise regime to avoid unnecessary injuries.
Prevent or Manage Diabetes
High blood sugar is one of the significant contributors to heart and blood vessel damage. So why is it that diabetes can double your risk of getting a heart ailment?
High blood pressure damages arterial walls, and when this is coupled with high cholesterol, the circulatory system is badly compromised. Unfortunately, many of these symptoms are not outwardly detectable, so many people may be victims, and they do not know.
Simple blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol level tests quickly identify underlying issues. More comprehensive tests can be done if your initial results are borderline.
If you already have diabetes, there are ways of managing the condition. Consult a doctor about all the control measures and make sure you follow all the guidelines.
Diabetes can be managed with the right expertise and lifestyle adjustments.
Don’t Light Up
Studies show that one in every four deaths related to cardiovascular disease is linked to smoking.
Cigarettes contain a high amount of toxins that are harmful to your well-being. Compounds like nicotine and tar promote plaque build-up in blood vessels leading to heart disease.
The dangers are inherent in even those who smoke 1-5 cigarettes a day. Unfortunately, exposure to secondhand smoke is also a risk factor that affects non-smokers. If you’re a smoker, think about the danger you’re putting your friends and family in if you smoke cigarettes around them.
When you stop smoking, the damage caused to your circulatory system is not automatically reversible; however, you vastly reduce your risk factors by a high percentage when you quit.
Five years after quitting smoking can put you in the same risk category as a non-smoker.
Get Enough Rest
The recommended sleep duration is between 7 and 9 hours per night. Unfortunately, our hectic schedules often limit us to 6 hours or less. Lack of proper sleep may be okay for a short period, but the consequences can be severe once it becomes chronic.
Research shows that poor sleeping habits can worsen high blood pressure, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes.
Ideally, your blood pressure goes down when you sleep deeply due to the body’s relaxed state. When you don’t sleep, your blood pressure stays higher over a more extended period which predisposes you to circulatory problems.
So what are some simple tips to help you get better sleep? Try and maintain a regular sleeping pattern and avoid external interruptions such as smartphone notification alerts. Also, avoid heavy meals just before bedtime and stay active during the day.
If you have a chronic sleep ailment such as sleep apnea or insomnia, look for a certified sleep specialist to administer a sleep study.
Keep Stress Levels in Check
The strains of everyday life can take a toll on your well-being and cause tension, anxiety, and worry.
When your body experiences stress, one of the most common trigger effects is high blood pressure. When you experience this over extended periods, you predispose yourself to heart issues.
Unfortunately, most people turn to substance abuse to deal with stressful situations. Alcohol and narcotics can cause more damage and add to existing risk factors.
If you suffer from chronic stress, seek sustainable treatment such as cognitive therapy, exercise, meditation, and stress management classes.
Above all, always connect with people and avoid the urge to shut yourself off from others. Social interaction is a natural way of calming stress levels and preventing more serious issues.
Heart disease is more prevalent than ever, and you may be at risk now. Make a personal decision to change your lifestyle habits if any risk factors highlighted above apply to you. The quicker you transform your everyday life, the greater chances you have of reversing some of the damage already done.
An educated community can deal with medical issues more effectively than a less informed one. So, now that you have basic knowledge about preventing common heart issues and implementing preventive measures, you can further educate friends and family members about the potential dangers of developing heart ailments.
It doesn’t cost much to share valuable information since it may save lives.