According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States, accounting for 1 in 7 deaths in the U.S. In the U.S., someone has a stroke every 40 seconds1.
One of the biggest contributors to these statistics is a lack of commitment to healthy living. Your lifestyle is your #1 defense against heart disease and stroke and following the steps below can greatly decrease your risk to Heart Disease and Stroke.
LIFESTYLE CHANGES AND PREVENTION
Don't Smoke or Vape
If you smoke, quit. Every cigarette you smoke makes you more likely to get heart disease. According to the CDC, roughly 1 out of 3 deaths from heart disease is directly related to smoking2. People who smoke are two to four times more likely to get heart disease. Click here to read the effects that smoking has on your health.
The nicotine in smoke:
Reduces how much oxygen your heart gets
Raises your blood pressure
Speeds up your heart rate
Makes blood clots more likely, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes
Harms the insides of your blood vessels, including those in your heart
Soon after you stop, your odds of getting heart disease or high blood pressure will drop. After 1 to 2 years of not smoking, you’ll be much less likely to get heart disease. Of course, kicking the habit also makes you less likely to get lung cancer and many other types of cancer, emphysema, and many other serious conditions.
A healthy diet is one of the best things you can do to prevent heart attacks. What you eat can affect your cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, weight and overall health. Choose foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish, legumes and nuts. Limit your intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages and red meats.
Physical Activity & Exercise
Research has shown that exercising 3–4 sessions per week, lasting on average 40 minutes per session, and involving moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level. Studies show that people who have achieved even a moderate level of fitness are much less likely to die early than those with a low fitness level.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Good nutrition, controlling caloric intake and physical activity are the only way to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity places you at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes — the factors that heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease. Ideally, your Body Mass Index (BMI) should remain below 25 and can help tell you if your weight is healthy.
Manage Your Diabetes
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among people with diabetes. Over time, high blood glucose levels damage nerves and blood vessels, leading to complications such as heart disease and stroke.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, increase cardiomyopathy, stroke, cancer, and other diseases. It can contribute to high triglycerides and produce irregular heartbeats. Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents.