Take action to beat heart disease

POSTED: 10:29 AM PST November 19, 2012    UPDATED: 7:41 AM PST December 5, 2012 
heart health stethoscope bandage

By Melissa Nelson, Pure Matters

If you’re at risk for heart disease, we have good news for you. Many people can take steps to significantly reduce their chances of developing it. Even if you already have atherosclerosis or have had a heart attack, there’s a lot you can do to prevent future heart problems.

Cardiac catheterization, bypass operations, angiography, stents and statins are helping many people with heart disease live longer. Even so, heart disease is still the most common cause of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). You can help make sure you don’t become a statistic by taking steps to lower your risk.

Risk factors

Some risk factors are beyond your control: You can't change your gender (males have a higher risk), your family history or your age (risk increases with age).

Other major risk factors, however, can be modified. You can help lower your risk for developing heart disease by making positive lifestyle changes. Even if you already have heart disease, doing these things can help you prevent a future heart attack:

You can tackle several risk factors at once by doing just three things: eating healthier foods, exercising and taking your medications as instructed.

Diet and health

Watching what you eat can reduce your risk for heart disease, says Joel Fuhrman, M.D., a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Limit foods that are high in calories and saturated fat, because they can lead to gain, as well as high cholesterol levels.

Dr. Fuhrman recommends these foods, which are high in nutrition:

Power of exercise

Exercise can cut your risk for heart disease by helping you lose weight and control your blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol levels, the AHA says. Exercise for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise on most days. Brisk walking, running, swimming and cycling all qualify. But, talk with your doctor before starting to exercise, especially if you already have heart disease.

Feeling unmotivated? Keep this in mind: If you weigh 200 pounds, you could lose 14 pounds in a year by adding a brisk 1-1/2-mile walk to your daily routine and eating sensibly. Not very athletic? Pick an activity that doesn’t require new skills. Hate exercising alone? Ask a friend to join you.

Take your medication

Following a healthier lifestyle may be enough to keep your blood pressure, cholesterol or even diabetes in check. But, if it isn’t doing the trick, your health care provider may recommend prescription medication, the AHA says.

Read the label on your medication, as well as any information provided by your pharmacy regarding your prescription. If you’re taking more than one medication, consider filling all your prescriptions at one pharmacy. This may help you prevent possibly dangerous interactions. Let your provider know about any side effects, but never stop taking medicine on your own.

Source: http://resources.purematters.com/prevention/heart-disease/take-action-to-beat-heart-disease