Taking care of your heart is one of the best things you can do for your health.
Do you eat:
- Prepared foods, like frozen dinners or deli meats?
- Butter, fried foods, red meat or baked goods?
- Fast food?
- Salty foods, or add salt to your food?
Or, do you:
- Smoke — cigarettes, a pipe or cigars?
- Exercise less than three times a week?
- Weigh more than your primary care provider recommends?
- Take birth control pills?
- Feel stressed out a lot?
- Spend a lot of time around secondhand smoke?
If you answered yes, then you may have a higher risk for heart disease. So what’s next?
Your heart is one of the most important muscles in your body, even though it’s only the size of a fist.
Coronary arteries send blood to your heart. Coronary artery disease, or CAD, is when your arteries get clogged. Arteries get blocked when plaque builds up over time. Plaque is made of fat, cholesterol and other things. Plaque starts to build up in your arteries when you’re young.
Causes of CAD — which of these could you be dealing with?
|Smoke||Have more than twice the risk of having heart disease than those who don’t.|
|Are overweight||May have higher blood pressure and cholesterol, which makes their hearts work harder.|
|Have high blood pressure||Increase their heart’s workload and their risk of heart problems.|
|Have high cholesterol||May end up with blocked arteries.|
|Don’t exercise||May have a weak heart that can lead to heart problems.|
|Have diabetes||Have a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.|
Tips to take to heart
Small changes can make a big difference — and good heart health is worth it. What can you do for a healthy heart?
- Move more. Even a 10-minute walk a couple times a day can make a difference.
- Ask your primary care provider to check your blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Keep your stress level down by doing hobbies you enjoy, breathing deeply or doing meditation for 5 to 10 minutes per day.
- Smoke less — call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) when you’re ready to quit.
- Eat for a healthy heart. Eat more grilled or baked lean proteins, whole grain breads, fruits and veggies. Eat less cheese, butter and red meat. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy (milk, yogurt).
Your heart has a lot to do with how much of an active, full life you can enjoy. You can feel your best by eating well and staying active. You can work with your primary care provider to get a wellness checkup every year, talk about risk factor and find out how to lower any risks.
Sooner is better
You can take good care of your heart before you have problems. Have a wellness checkup once a year. Your primary care provider can order tests to find out if you have CAD or talk with you about your risk.
Things to think about or ask your primary care provider:
- What is your blood pressure?
- What are your cholesterol levels?
- What is your family history of diabetes and heart attacks?