In order to prevent heart disease, doctors screen patients for certain risk factors, including:
Many people have high blood pressure (also called hypertension) without knowing it. That's why it's sometimes called "the silent killer." If you don't detect and treat high blood pressure, it greatly it increases your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
High cholesterol means an HDL level that is too low and/or an LDL level or total blood cholesterol that is too high. By itself, high blood cholesterol doesn't cause any symptoms. This means many people are unaware they have this cardiac risk factor. If you are over the age of 20, you should have your cholesterol levels checked at least once every 5 years.
Certain life-style changes can also slow the progression of heart disease, including: maintaining a healthy weight, being active, making healthy food choices and quitting smoking.
If you have a lot of excess weight from body fat, you're more likely to develop heart disease. This is true even if you have no other risk factors. Excess body fat hurts your heart by putting extra strain on your heart muscle, raising cholesterol and blood pressure, and increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease. Many studies have confirmed that people who don't get regular exercise are more likely to develop heart disease. People in this group are also more likely to have other cardiac risk factors such as high blood pressure, excess weight, and diabetes. ALL exercise adds up to a healthier heart. Even small increases in daily activity can reduce your risk of heart problems.
It can be difficult to get your portions just right for a balanced, heart-healthy meal. Half your plate should be fruits and vegetables, a fourth of your plate whole grains, and a fourth of your plate lean sources of proteins. When we structure our plates this way, we ensure our meals are balanced and have variety.
You already know that smoking damages your lungs and increases your chance of developing dangerous lung diseases. You might have also heard that smoking is bad for your skin and eyes. But did you know that smoking can also hurt your heart? It can speed the buildup of fatty plaque in your arteries and increase the strain on your heart and your risk of blood clots. The time to quit is now. Stay committed and be smoke free.
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