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Reducing Your Risk of Heart Disease

Reducing Your Risk of Heart Disease

Tips for Looking After Your Heart Health

Heart disease is a term used to refer to several different types of health conditions affecting the heart and how it functions. With heart disease being the leading cause of death affecting American adults, it's essential to do what you can to reduce your risk of developing it.

Key Statistics About Heart Disease

While many people know that heart disease is a serious health issue, it is rarely understood how extensively this chronic health issue is affecting American adults. Some key statistics on how heart disease affects the American public include:

  • 25% of deaths in the United States are a result of heart disease.
  • Someone dies every 36 seconds from heart disease.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease.
  • Over 800,000 Americans have a heart attack each year.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

The following factors can increase your risk for developing heart disease:

  • Having high blood pressure.
  • Having high cholesterol levels.
  • Smoking and using tobacco products.
  • Having poorly controlled diabetes.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Eating an unhealthy diet.
  • Leading an inactive lifestyle.
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

Effectively Preventing Heart Disease

With about half of American adults having at least 1 of the aforementioned factors that increase their likelihood of developing heart disease, it makes it even more important to make healthy lifestyle choices to ward off heart disease. Here’s how you can effectively support healthy heart function.

Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels

Although there is an emphasis on managing your cholesterol levels to lead a healthy lifestyle, many people don’t actually know what range their cholesterol levels should actually be in. Here’s what you should know about each cholesterol reading and what numbers are considered healthy and ideal.

Total Cholesterol

As the name suggests, your total cholesterol reading measures the total amount of cholesterol present in your blood. This accounts for both low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels.

To be considered healthy, your total cholesterol reading should be 125 to 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)

LDL (Bad Cholesterol)

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) makes up most of the cholesterol found in your blood. Often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, LDL is responsible for causing high cholesterol, leaving you at a higher risk for developing heart disease.

Your LDL levels should be lower than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

HDL (Good Cholesterol)

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is called the "good" cholesterol because it helps to reduce your cholesterol levels. HDL helps to carry LDL to the liver, where it is then broken down and removed from the body.

Your HDL levels should be 40 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher.

Lead an Active Lifestyle

Although it is perfectly normal to spend some of your free time relaxing and catching up on your rest, leading an inactive lifestyle can significantly increase your risk of developing heart disease. In fact, spending a lot of time sitting and lying down can increase your risk of developing heart disease at a similar rate of:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol

In order to look after your heart health, it is recommended that adults incorporate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise into their routine each week. Some excellent activities to help you stay active include:

  • Nature walks
  • Hiking
  • Running or jogging
  • Deep cleaning your home
  • Gardening
  • Bike riding
  • Jumping rope
  • Dancing
  • Rollerblading or roller skating
  • Indoor swimming
  • Cycling
  • Climbing stairs
  • Yoga or hot yoga

Effectively Manage Your Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for about 90% of diabetes cases in the United States. When living with this chronic health condition, it is difficult for the body to properly use insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.

When type 2 diabetes is left unmanaged, it can lead to cardiovascular health issues. Having unmanaged blood glucose levels and other issues connected to diabetes can cause:

  • High blood sugar
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High triglyceride levels

Stay Up-to-Date on Routine Checkups

Heart disease is often referred to as the “silent killer” as there are typically no symptoms that point to the presence of cardiovascular health problems until someone experiences a cardiac event. These include:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Arrhythmia

Because these cardiac events show no symptoms before they happen, it makes it important for you to have routine visits with your primary care physician. During your routine wellness exams, it is normal for your doctor to request blood work that can help them to get a well-rounded view of your cardiovascular health. If they notice anything out of the ordinary, they can work with you to help address these heart health issues.

Additional Ways to Prevent Heart Disease

Along with these bigger lifestyle changes, the following can also help to support healthy cardiovascular function:

  • Quit smoking or never start
  • Avoid secondhand smoke
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Keep stress levels under control
  • Get enough good-quality sleep each night
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage your blood pressure

If you have any additional questions or concerns about your heart health, be sure to speak with your primary care doctor.

CCH is open, safe and ready to see you.

With almost 80 physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners in nearly 20 specialties, CCH is committed to your wellbeing right here at home. If you have been putting off a visit to your doctor for a regular checkup, contact them; they can help weigh your personal healthcare risk and avoid further delayed diagnoses.

Visit www.cchwyo.org/findadoc to find your provider or clinic.