According to research funded by the American Heart Association, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) like heart attack and stroke are listed as the underlying cause of death in nearly 837,000 deaths every year in the United States – that’s one in every three deaths! While many factors contribute to your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, including genetics, there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make right now to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the future. Even if you’ve already had a heart attack or stroke, making changes to your diet, activity level and other aspects of your life can greatly reduce your chances of having another one. Here are a few ways you can make healthy choices to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statistics show that up to 16% or more of deaths from cardiovascular disease can be attributed to smoking and tobacco use. Smoking causes severe damage to the heart and blood vessels, causing hypertension, arterial hardening and making it much more likely that a blood clot will initiate a heart attack or stroke. While quitting smoking won’t immediately cut your risk, it will give your heart and blood vessels a chance to heal, significantly reducing CVD risk over time.
Change Your Diet
Eating a steady diet of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol has been shown to increase the incidence of fatty deposits called plaques in the blood vessels. Not only that, but a high-salt diet has been linked to hypertension, or high blood pressure. When these two factors combine, they make it much more likely that you’ll suffer a heart attack or stroke. Cutting out processed foods and foods high in fat, cholesterol, and salt is one of the biggest changes you can make to improve the health of your cardiovascular system.
Get More Exercise
Getting regular exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, strengthens the heart muscle, lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol and helps to control your weight. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, is one of the biggest risk factors for heart attack and stroke. Research suggests that engaging in moderate physical activity for about 40 minutes, 3-4 times per week makes you less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke – just be sure to check with your doctor to find out if you’re healthy enough for physical activity before you start any new exercise routine.
At American Senior Communities, we promote a healthy lifestyle, not just for our residents, but for everyone else as well. If you have risk factors for heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases, it’s important that you talk to your doctor right away about reducing your chances of having an episode. Even if you don’t have risk factors, adopting healthy lifestyle choices is a good idea for anyone. The choices listed above are just a few you can make to improve cardiovascular health, so don’t be afraid to do some research or ask your doctor for more tips; it could save your life!
For more information about American Senior Communities, visit us at www.ASCCare.com.