Five Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., claiming 610,000 lives every year.
The most common kind of heart disease is coronary artery disease, when plaque builds up in the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow, which often leads to heart attack or stroke. Other types of heart disease occur when the heart doesn’t pump as well as it should (congestive heart failure), or the heart pumps too fast, too slow or irregularly (arrhythmia), or there are heart valve problems.
Develop These Lifelong Habits
Lifestyle changes can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and help you manage your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, early precursors to heart disease. These five strategies will help you live a heart-healthy life:
- Stay away from tobacco. The chemicals in tobacco harm your blood cells, damage the lining of your arteries, increase your cholesterol, and destroy the function of your heart and blood vessels. A one-pack-a-day smoker is twice as likely as a non-smoker to have a heart attack. If you smoke, vape or chew, quitting is the best thing you can do for your good health.
- Get 30 minutes of exercise every day. Regular exercise strengthens your heart and lungs, lowers blood pressure, increases good cholesterol and reduces bad cholesterol. Physical activity lowers your risk for heart disease and many other chronic conditions.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight, especially around your middle, strains your heart, raises blood pressure and cholesterol, and increases your risk for heart disease. If you are overweight or obese, losing just 5% of your starting weight can greatly reduce your risk.
- Eat better. Make vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and beans the centerpieces of your meals. Eating the right foods can reduce your risk for heart disease by helping you control your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Drink alcohol in moderation (if at all). Although moderate drinking–no more than 1 drink a day for women and 2 for men–may have benefits for some people, regular, excessive or binge drinking can hurt your heart muscle and increase your blood pressure.
Regence Condition Manager Can Help
If you have coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure, Regence Condition Manager can help you feel better more often. The program is available to participants who have one of these conditions, or asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or diabetes, and is free, voluntary and confidential.
Through Regence Condition Manager, health care professionals provide one-on-one assistance to help people improve their overall health, giving them extra support in addition to their doctor’s treatment plan. To learn more, call 800-267-6729 (toll-free).