Heart Health at Any Age
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States, and while there isn’t much you can do to control genetics and the normal aging process, nurse practitioner Joyce Dobish, CRNP says there are other factors you do have the ability to control. Check out her advice for taking care of your heart at every age.
“The earlier you begin to incorporate healthy lifestyle measures such as daily exercise, improved eating habits, including appropriate portion sizes, limiting sodium, certain fats, sugars, along with good sleep habits, the more you can help minimize the risk of developing heart disease and or other comorbidities such as diabetes,” claims Joyce.
Get Regular Physicals
– You don’t have to be sick to visit the doctor! In fact, starting regular wellness exams at an early age will help put you on the path for good heart health. Talk to your family physician about your lifestyle including activity level and diet and have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked.
Stay Physically Active
– You don’t have to stick to the gym in order to be physically active. Do something you enjoy, whether it’s hiking or dancing, just keep your exercise routine fun.
– Smoking doesn’t just cause lung cancer; it can also cause serious heart issues. You should also avoid second hand smoke, which can be just as dangerous.
Know Your History
– A family history of heart disease increases your risk of heart disease as well. Make sure you share your family history with your physician so they can appropriately follow your health.
Lower Your Stress
– Stress can be a major risk factor when it comes to heart attacks. If you have a difficult time handling stress, look into some stress management techniques that can help.
Make Heart Health a family affair
– Family is a big part of many people’s life. Make heart health a family affair by incorporating a healthy diet and exercise into your family’s daily routine.
“In general, children and adults alike should remain active, making daily exercise activity as basic and habit forming as brushing your teeth. At least 30 minutes daily will help one reap beneficial effects,” says Joyce.
“Risk factors for development of heart disease include genetic disposition to disease development, immediate family member with known premature heart disease and /or premature cardiovascular death, advancing age, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and smoking history,” says Joyce.
Watch Your Weight
– Once you hit 40 your metabolism may begin to slow down, which makes it more difficult to lose weight. It’s important to keep your weight in check with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.
Check Your Blood Sugar
– It’s a good idea to have a fasting blood glucose test done by the time you are 45. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease, especially if left uncontrolled.
Look Into Snoring
– Don’t brush off snoring! Snoring can be caused by sleep apnea, which can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke if not treated.
“Amongst healthy food items that should be included in daily diet, most importantly should be fresh fruits and vegetables; more color more nutrients! In addition low-carb, whole grains and high fiber including such things as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, nuts. Recommendation continues for minimal consumption of red meat with continued recommendation for consumption of chicken, turkey, and fish and either baked, grilled, broiled, or steamed fashion,” says Joyce.
Eat Heart Healthy
– Make sure that your diet is rich in heart healthy foods like salmon, walnuts and berries.
Know the Signs of Heart Attack and Stroke
– Not everyone experiences the same symptoms when it comes to heart attack and stroke. Learn what to look for and what you should do in the event of an emergency.
Stay on a Treatment Plan
– If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol or blood pressure, make sure that you continue taking medication as directed by your doctor.
60 and above
Have an Ankle-Brachial test
– This test helps diagnose peripheral artery disease by testing the pulse in your feet.
Continue to Monitor your Weight
– Weight continues to be a big risk factor when it comes to heart issues.
Familiarize Yourself with Warning Signs of Heart Problems
– If you don’t already know, learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. They are not always the same and women may experience different symptoms then men.
“It is important to familiarize and have the ability to identify the signs and symptoms of both heart attack or stroke. Earlier identification and recognition offers one the opportunity to seek immediate emergency medical attention which includes initiation of life-saving measures to help minimize further heart damage and/or debilitating long lasting effects of stroke,” says Joyce.