5 Risk Factors for Heart Disease You Can Change

Heart disease kills more than 650,000 people in the United States each year. Some heart disease factors such as age and family history are outside of your control. However, having uncontrollable risk factors doesn’t mean you’re destined to develop heart disease. There are other factors that you can control, and it’s never too late to take action.  

Nader Chadda, MD and the team at Advanced Heart and Vascular Associates treat a full range of cardiovascular diseases at their offices in Hudson, Brooksville, and Land O’ Lakes, Florida. If you’re concerned about your heart health, it’s a good idea to schedule a thorough heart check. 

Even if you’re at average risk, you can take steps to keep your heart healthy. Learn some of the best ways to lower your risk of heart disease.  

#1: Lose excess weight

Not only does carrying excess weight boost the risk for high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension, but obesity is also an independent risk factor for heart disease. If you’re overweight, slimming down can have a powerful impact on lowering your cardiovascular risk, as well as your overall risk for chronic diseases.

How much should you aim for? Ultimately the goal is to maintain a normal weight. For most people, that’s a BMI in the range of 18.5 to 24.9. However, you can reap major benefits from losing a modest amount of weight. 

For patients with obesity, losing just 5% of your body weight significantly lowers heart disease risk. If you’re struggling to lose weight on your own, talk to your provider about tools and programs to help you reach your weight-loss and health goals. 

#2: Bust chronic stress

In recent years stress has emerged as a risk factor for heart disease. Scientists are working to understand exactly how stress boosts cardiovascular risk. We know that unrelenting stress promotes inflammation, which is an underlying factor in heart disease.

Don’t underestimate the impact of stress on your heart health. Add stress-busting activities to your lifestyle to counteract the effects of stress. Walking in nature, taking a yoga class, and meditation are just a few activities that relieve stress.

#3: Get your body moving

Your body is made to move. Regular physical activity keeps your heart strong and helps it pump blood throughout your body efficiently. Your tissues do a better job of absorbing and using oxygen from your blood as well. Exercise also lowers blood pressure and promotes healthy cholesterol levels.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days. If you experience symptoms during exertion, such as shortness of breath or chest pain, schedule a visit with us at Advanced Heart and Vascular Associates. This could be a warning sign of heart trouble.

#4: Manage your cholesterol levels

High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. Over time, fatty substances accumulate in the arteries and harden, causing the arteries to stiffen and narrow, and setting the stage for a heart attack or stroke.

A cholesterol screening lets you know where your levels are in relation to the normal level. If your levels are higher than normal, it’s crucial for you to work with your doctor to lower your cholesterol. Fortunately, lifestyle factors that promote heart health, such as adopting a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise, also lower cholesterol.

#5: Control high blood pressure

Hypertension can silently damage your body for years before obvious symptoms emerge. That’s why it’s necessary to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Persistently elevated blood pressure requires prompt management, as hypertension is especially dangerous to your heart and circulatory system.

High blood pressure damages your arteries. Under the persistent force of high blood pressure, arteries go from soft and flexible to hard and stiff, decreasing blood flow to the rest of the body. Changes in diet and lifestyle play an important role in keeping blood pressure within a normal range. When that’s not enough, blood pressure-lowering medication can help. 

Rely on the top-quality cardiology team at Advanced Heart and Vascular Associates to help you keep your heart healthy and strong. Our team offers a full range of cardiovascular care. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, or book one online. We offer telehealth and in-person visits. 

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