Even when your family tree is full of people with heart disease, you can cut your risks by pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
Your genetic predisposition to heart disease means you need to be more aware of your heart health. Someone dies from heart disease or stroke every seven minutes in Canada, according to the latest statistics published by the Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF). But as many as four out of five of those deaths are preventable.
You can improve your heart health significantly by following a few key tips from cardiologists. WebMD offers a few tips from cardiologist Lori Mosca, MD, founder of Columbia University Medical Center’s Preventive Cardiology Program who wrote Heart to Heart: A Personal Plan for Creating a Heart-Healthy Family.
While some of the information on diet and heart disease you find in popular media is confusing, with the same thing demonized by one source and held up as a healthy choice by another. But Dr. Mosca says to ignore competing headlines and follow guidelines from organizations like the American Heart Association or the HSF.
She outlines five simple dietary rules:
- Increase your intake of vegetables, fruits, fiber and whole grains.
- Eat fish two times a week.
- Limit “bad” fats – saturated fat and trans fat – and cholesterol. Keep the amount of fats to less than 30% and make saturated fat the rare addition to your diet.
- For dairy products, use low fat, 1% and fat-free selections.
- Limit the amount of salt in your diet.
She also recommends getting the exercise your heart needs; if you’re not overweight, you only need to do is spend 30 minutes a day on moderate physical activity, five days or more a week. You can split it up, doing 15 minutes morning and evening.
To manage your weight, if that’s a problem, you’ll need to spend 60 minutes a day on low to moderate physical activity.
Smoking is the single most dangerous thing you can do, Dr. Mosca says. Every cigarette you cut down on the way to stopping helps.
If you do have a family history of heart disease, you should get yourself checked. Find out whether you have high cholesterol and follow your doctor’s orders to lower it, either with diet changes or medications.
Much of the research on heart disease since the 1950s has focused on men, but The Mind Body Shift provides Three Lifestyle Changes to Improve Your Heart Health with women in mind.
Richard Krasuski, MD, staff cardiologist in Clinical Cardiology at the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic, told them that recent research on women with heart disease found little difference in initial symptoms between men and women.
Dr. Krasuski’s top three tips for improving heart health mirror those of Dr. Mosca:
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Stop smoking.
- Make time for exercise and increase your physical activity.
He added sugar to things to limit and said to cut back on sugared beverages, a top culprit for increasing obesity and diabetes risks.
He also added stress management and social connectedness to the list of positive influences on heart health.
Following these tips can build a healthy heart, both doctors agree.
Heart Healthy Advice from a Top Cardiologist Credit Picture License: Kizzlexy via photopin cc