Health & Wellness

4 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Every 40 seconds, someone dies of heart disease in the U.S. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Ask yourself how you can improve your health and reduce your risk. Also be sure to know all the symptoms of a heart attack so you can get the care you need in time.

Are You at Risk of Heart Disease?

“If you have other medical conditions, such as diabetes or obesity, you may be at a higher risk of heart disease,” says Thomas Campbell, MD, physician at CHI St. Joseph Health Primary Care University Drive. You can also be at a higher risk of heart disease from poor lifestyle choices such as unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and tobacco use.

How Can I Reduce My Risk?

Living a healthy lifestyle is often the answer to reducing your chances of nearly all medical conditions, but when it comes to heart disease, it’s especially important. By making simple and smart decisions each day toward a healthy lifestyle, you can improve your heart health significantly.

  1. Nix the Nicotine
    You know not to smoke cigarettes, but did you know the “healthier” alternative, e-cigarettes, still contain nicotine? Even secondhand smoke comes with 7,000 chemicals and a whole slate of irritants that can seriously hurt heart health. If you want to save your heart, avoid smoke altogether.

  2. Strive for Seven
    According to a recent study, participants who slept seven hours a night had lower levels of calcium in their arteries (an early sign of heart disease) than those who slept five hours or less and even nine hours or more. It’s also important to ensure you’re sleeping soundly throughout the night. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, talk to your doctor or visit the CHI St. Joseph Health Sleep Center to explore your options on how to best get a full night’s rest.

  3. Stand up for Your Health
    Those pesky reminders on your watch or phone to get up and get moving have a point after all. Keeping up with a consistent exercise routine is crucial to heart health, but it’s just as important to stay active throughout your day. Pay close notice to how much time you spend sitting down and try to reduce it step by step.

  4. Go Green
    Your parents were definitely right about one thing: finish those veggies. In fact, your heart craves a plant-based diet full of heart-healthy foods. Processed foods, refined foods, saturated fats, and trans fats are all hard on the heart’s arteries. The easiest way to create a cleaner diet is to cut out sugary beverages, fatty meats, and full-fat dairy. Finally, be sure to have your cholesterol checked every five years.

Do You Know the Signs and Symptoms?

Although 92 percent of people know that chest pain is a major symptom of a heart attack, only 27 percent know all of the major signs and when to call 911. Therein, nearly half of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside of a hospital. It’s not only important to know the signs, it’s also important to know that any of the signs warrant a visit to the ER.

If you feel chest pain or discomfort, upper body pain, discomfort in your arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach, seek emergency medical care. Shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, and cold sweats are also indicators that you need to seek medical attention immediately.

As the pioneer of cardiovascular care in the Brazos Valley, CHI St. Joseph Health is home to the first accredited Chest Pain Center in Central Texas and the highest-level trauma center in a nine-county area. CHI St. Joseph’s Health emergency rooms also care for more emergency and trauma cases, including stroke and heart attack, than any other health system in the region. In case of an emergency, locate your nearest ER so you know where to go when minutes matter.

Heart Disease Fact Sheet
Preventing Heart Disease: Healthy Living Habits
Tips for Better Heart Health
Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke

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