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How to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Heart disease is a serious medical condition and is the leading cause of death in the United States.

But knowing how to keep your heart healthy can help save your life, or the life of someone you love. Are you pumped to get smarter?

Modifiable risk factors for heart disease

There are three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. About half of all Americans have a least one of them. Some risk factors cannot be controlled, like your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.

Do you have any of the following common risk factors?

Heart healthy lifestyle

Even if it runs in your family, heart disease isn’t inevitable. By living a healthy lifestyle, you can lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack.

“The little daily habits that you do can make the biggest difference,” stresses Dr. Amanda Booth, a primary care physician at Spira Care Lee’s Summit.

“You don’t need to do crazy, extreme diets or work out for an hour a day, or anything like that. But your body really needs you to stay active. Taking frequent breaks and moving around is always really, really important,” Dr. Booth explains.

Healthy eating is one of the primary ways to prevent heart disease. Dr. Booth recommends eating a varied diet, or foods across all food groups. “You want a diet higher in fiber and one that avoids processed foods,” she adds.   

“It’s never too late to start healthy habits, but the earlier you start them, the more they help,” shares Dr. Booth.

  Controllable risk factors for heart disease include:

  1. Stop smoking. The toxic chemicals in cigarettes negatively impact the functionality of your heart and blood vessels which leads to a build-up of plaque in your heart arteries.
  2. Choose healthy foods. Good nutrition helps keep a host of critical risk factors in check – cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, weight – and you’ll feel better, which could lead to other good habits like exercising.
  3. Stay active. Take a daily walk, stretch or do yoga, take a fitness class, ride a bike – as little as 10 minutes a day of physical activity can deliver some health benefits.
  4. Limit alcohol: Having more than two drinks per day for men, and once per day for women, can increase your risk of high blood pressure and obesity, which both increase the risk of heart disease.
  5. Relax. Learning to manage stress in healthy ways is important to your mental health and your heart health.

Heart health screenings

Screenings can flag potential heart problems before serious complications occur. And there’s really no excuse because these screenings aren’t invasive. Plus, they’re done by your primary care physician during a routine physical exam.

Some simple tests can give your doctor major insight into your overall heart health and can safeguard against future problems. So, when should these vital heart health screenings begin? Age 40? 50? 60? Not even close – it’s age 20!  

It’s important to stay up to date on your preventive care visits, and to talk to your PCP about what heart health screenings are recommended for you.  

Your first line of defense against heart disease: Your Spira Care PCP

Your primary care physician is your go-to for routine care like annual vaccines and wellness checks. But don’t forget that your PCP also plays a key role in your heart health. Your physician can do everything from monitor your cholesterol and blood pressure to manage your diabetes and diet.  

To keep your heart healthy, your PCP can also prescribe medications, help you with lifestyle modifications, and if necessary, refer you to a cardiologist for a higher level of care. Your PCP is also here to answer any questions you may have.

Ready to show your heart some love? Call 913-29-SPIRA (77472) to schedule an appointment.

Sources: American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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