Managing and Preventing Cardiovascular Disease

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By living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels normal and lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack.

 

CHOOSING HEALTHY HABITS

You have the choice to adopt healthy habits to prevent heart disease. Below are things you can do to lower your risk of acquiring cardiovascular disease, or to delay disease progression.

  • Choose healthy food and drinks

Healthy meal and snack options can help prevent heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Try and eat less foods which are high in saturated fat and trans fats because an excess of these foods may contribute to heart disease. Eating foods high in fiber and low in saturated fats is always a better option to choose. Limit the use of salt in your diet. This can be done by substituting salt with herbs or other natural flavors. This may lower your blood pressure. It is also best to limit the amount of sugar  in your diet and cut down on alcohol.

  • Keep a healthy weight

People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for heart disease. Speak to your doctor if you need help with weight loss.

  • Get regular exercise

Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. For adults, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling, every week. Children and adolescents should get 1 hour of physical activity every day.

  • Don’t smoke

Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Ask your doctor to assist with the process of quitting.

 

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR MEDICAL CONDITION

If you have a high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, you can take steps to ensure your risk for heart disease is lowered.

  • Your blood should be tested for the level of cholesterol regularly. If you’ve already been diagnosed with high cholesterol or have someone in your family with high cholesterol, you may need to get your cholesterol checked more often. Talk to your doctor about this simple blood test. 
  • High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, so have it checked on a regular basis. You can check it at a doctor’s office, at a pharmacy, or at home. If you already have high blood pressure, your doctor might recommend some lifestyle changes, such as lowering the sodium in your diet. Medicine may also be prescribed in some circumstances. Once under control your risk for developing cardiovascular disease decreases significantly.
  • If you are diabetic, monitor your blood sugar levels carefully. Adhering to your medication and/or insulin can facilitate a reduced risk of heart disease.

You can work together with your doctor to prevent and/or treat the medical conditions that lead to heart disease. Discuss your treatment plan regularly, always ask questions if you don’t understand anything. Don’t stop taking your prescribed medication without first consulting your doctor.

If you have already had cardiovascular disease, complications can be prevented if you work on being as healthy as possible. Your treatment plan may include medication or surgery and lifestyle changes to reduce your risk. Be sure to take your medication as directed and follow your doctor’s instructions closely.

 

Written by Dr Ruusa Shivute | Health Window

Reference: Haskell WL, Lee IM, Pate RR, Powell KE, Blair SN, Franklin BA, Macera CA, Heath GW, Thompson PD, Bauman A. Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Aug;39(8):1423-34. 


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