Cardiovascular disease is a general term that describes a wide range of conditions that affect your heart’s ability to function normally and pump blood to the rest of your body.
If your heart is not working properly, it can lead to serious complications such as heart attack or stroke.
There are several risk factors that can increase your chances of developing complications associated with cardiovascular disease. Some factors such as age or family history are non-modifiable, meaning they cannot be changed. However, there are others that are modifiable and can be changed to lower your risk of developing disease. Modifiable risk factors include tobacco use, lack of exercise, stress, a poor diet and medication adherence. Here are some tips on how you can reduce these risks and prevent heart disease:
1. Exercise Regularly – The American Heart Association recommends including 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, 5 days a week, in your routine. This will help to keep your heart muscle strong.
2. Eat Healthy – Make sure to eat lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Avoid fatty foods and salt. One of the recommended diets to help prevent heart disease is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.
3. Stop Smoking – Smoking can damage your blood vessels and raise your blood pressure which increases your chances of having a heart attack.
4. Reduce Your Stress – Stress can also raise your blood pressure and put a strain on your heart. One of the ways to reduce stress is practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga. If you feel your stress is too much to handle on your own, talk to your primary care doctor or a mental health professional.
5. Properly Manage Other Medical Conditions – Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes put you at a much greater risk for heart disease. Make sure you take medications that your doctor prescribed to manage these conditions.
Making an appointment for an annual physical with your primary care doctor can also lower your risk. Annual visits can help your doctor detect the early signs of heart disease. Your doctor can talk to you about your risk factors and help you to begin living and maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle. You should see a doctor immediately if you begin to experience symptoms such as chest pain, fainting, shortness of breath or irregular heartbeat. These are often indicators of serious heart-related problems that require urgent medical attention.
To speak with a Family Medicine doctor about heart disease, please call (718) 206-6942.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.