Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. and worldwide. In the United States alone, over 600,000 people die from heart disease every year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While this statistic can be startling the good news is that heart disease is one of the most preventable causes of death. Although certain risk factors, such as age and family history, cannot be changed, there are other risk factors that can be controlled through lifestyle changes. Here are six easy ways to prevent heart disease.
1. Be physical active
Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent heart disease. Regular exercise helps make your heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in your arteries.
Try to participate in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, or vigorous aerobic exercise for 75 minutes per week.
Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that gets your heart beating faster than at rest. It strengthens your heart and lungs and trains your cardiovascular system to manage and deliver oxygen more quickly and efficiently throughout your body. Examples of aerobic exercises include brisk walking, jogging, running, swimming or cycling.
2. Eat a healthy balanced diet
A healthy, balanced diet involves eating a wide variety of foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grain, lean meats, nuts, and seeds, and limit the consumption of salt, added sugars, saturated and trans fats.
3. Control your weight
Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease, so it’s important to control your weight. You can achieve it through a proper diet and regular physical activity.
Healthy weight status in adults is usually assessed by using weight and height to compute a number called Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI indicates the amount of body fat.
An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is overweight and normal weight is a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. You can check your BMI using a BMI calculator here.
4. Stop smoking
Quitting smoking is one of the best things a person can do to prevent heart disease. This because the nicotine found in tobacco smoke can cause the blood pressure to increase and make the blood clot easily.
It also contains carbon monoxide, which binds to the blood’s oxygen carrying sites. This decreases the ability of the blood to carry oxygen to body tissues.
5. Limit alcohol consumption
Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk for heart attack. If you drink, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.
According to a review of 15 studies, the less you drink, the lower your blood pressure will drop—to a point. “High levels of alcohol are clearly detrimental,” says Eva Obarzanek, PhD, a research nutritionist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “But moderate alcohol is protective of the heart. If you are going to drink, drink moderately.”
6. Manage stress
Stress may contribute to behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk. Although the link between stress and heart disease isn’t clear, chronic stress may cause some people to drink more alcohol or smoke cigarettes to manage their stress. These are all factors that can lead to heart disease. That’s why, it’s important to pay attention to the things which put your body under stress. Learn more about how to manage stress.