Heart disease is a general term for a range of conditions that affect your heart, including:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart failure
- Heart valve disease
- Congenital heart disease
- Pericardial disease
- Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy)
- Heart infection (endocarditis)
- Cardiovascular disease
Altogether, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide, accounting for one in every five deaths.
The good news is that there are some choices you can make to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Here are six tips to help prevent heart disease:
Smoking cigarettes is one of the biggest risk factors for developing heart disease. It damages the lining of your arteries, increases your blood pressure and heart rate, and reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood.
When you stop smoking, your tissues can recover and heal almost immediately. Within days, your risk of developing heart disease will already start lowering. And as more and more time passes without smoking, your risk will continue to decrease substantially.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Fatty, greasy foods, sugary drinks, and refined carbs can all contribute to heart disease. These foods can cause inflammation, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar—all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Instead, focus on eating nutrient-rich foods every day. This includes:
- whole grains
- nuts and seeds
- lean meats
Additionally, optimizing your heart health will involve limiting or completely avoiding:
- trans fats
- saturated fats
- added sugars
- excess sodium (salt)
- refine carbs (white bread, white rice)
A high-quality diet like this will improve your heart health and reduce your risk of developing other chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and various types of cancer.
Your heart is a muscle. It needs to be exercised. Routine physical activity helps reduce your risk of heart disease by:
- lowering blood pressure
- improving blood cholesterol
- lowering your risk of diabetes
- helping you maintain a healthy weight
- reducing stress
There are plenty of ways to get your heart pumping, so find an activity or exercise routine that you enjoy and stick with it. Aim for at least 150 minutes weekly—even more, is better.
Get Regular Checkups
Seeing your doctor regularly is essential to maintaining your overall health and preventing heart disease. They can check for signs and risk factors, diagnose conditions early, and provide guidance and treatment recommendations to help you stay healthy.
They can also work with you to develop a personalized prevention plan based on your unique situation. This might include lifestyle changes, stress-management techniques, medications, and other treatments.