Remember, “An apple a day…?” Well, a little bit of prevention is worth a whole bucket full of those apples. Don’t wait until you are sick to drag your behind into the doctor’s office; Now is a great time to set up a preventative health plan for yourself; especially if you are like the millions of Americans who have set a health and wellness resolution this year.
By the way, it is not too late to make one of those resolutions. If you haven’t already, we suggest you focus on preventing heart disease, since it is the number one killer in this country. To understand how you can prevent heart disease, you need to know what your risk factors are. These generally fall into two categories: things you cannot change, and things you can.
The risk factors for heart disease that you cannot change include things like family history, sex, age, and genetics. The more of these that you have, the more important it is you make the changes you do have control over.
And yes, even if your inherent risks are high, lifestyle changes can make a big difference. According to a 2016 Harvard study, even patients with a high genetic risk for heart disease can cut their heart attack risk in half by leading a healthy lifestyle.
Most of us have a general idea of what it means to lead a healthy lifestyle, and yet we don’t always make the right choices. This might be because “living a healthy lifestyle” can be too nebulous a goal or feel like too big a task. Does it mean I have to run marathons? Give up chocolate all together? Eat that whole bucket of apples?
A better approach is to find out what your own personal risk factors are and what you can do about them individually.
Know Your Conditions
Several underlying medical conditions can put you at a much higher risk for heart disease. These include:
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
If you have any one of these, it is important to work with your doctor to get it under control. Before you can do that, of course, you need to know to what extent you are suffering from any of them. While obesity might be apparent, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and even diabetes can be present without symptoms. Check in with your doctor to learn more.
Know Your Habits
Even more than you do with your medical conditions, you have control over the way you treat your body on a daily basis. The following lifestyle choices have strong links to heart disease risk.
- Poor diet
- Tobacco use
- Lack of exercise
Getting a handle on any one of these can seem daunting. What is a poor diet exactly? How much exercise is enough? Are e-cigarettes OK? The American Heart Association has created this 2020 Impact Goal to help you understand healthy parameters to aim for. You can also get some answers from our past posts on the following subjects:
Whatever your lifestyle or health condition(s), it is a good idea to get a full personalized picture of your heart disease risk. Call and make an appointment with us today, and we’ll help you set goals you can achieve for long and healthy life. Now that is a good resolution.
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