Easy tips to protect yourself from heart disease

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • Just because heart disease runs in your family doesn't mean you have to suffer the same fate. There are steps you can take to protect yourself.


    Heart disease is a term used to encompass a wide variety of heart related conditions, such as coronary artery disease, irregular heart beats (arrhythmias), heart defects, and heart infections. It is the leading cause of death for men and women.


    If you want to be proactive, here are 5 steps you can take to protect yourself against heart disease:

    #1 Stop smoking. . .or don't start

    Atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) lead to heart disease. These conditions occur when cholesterol and other fats are deposited along the walls of arteries causes them to narrow and become rigid.

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    Cigarette smoking accelerates the narrowing and hardening of the arteries increasing your risk for heart disease and blood clots.

    #2 Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure

    High blood pressure is known as the ‘silent killer' because your levels can be elevated for an extended period of time and you may never know it. An elevated blood pressure causes the heart to work harder, increasing the force against your artery walls leading to arteriosclerosis (hardening of the artery walls). The hardening of your arteries is a part of the development of heart disease.
    Regularly monitor your blood pressure and take steps to lower your blood pressure if it is elevated.

    #3 Be Regularly Active

    Exercise strengthens the heart allowing it to work more efficiently which helps promote a lower blood pressure. Regular exercise also promotes a healthy body weight which keeps stress on the heart reduced.

    Aim for 30 minutes of activity at least 5 days a week to promote heart health and protect yourself against heart disease. Your exercise routine should include aerobic activity and strength training.


    #4 Eat a Heart Healthy Diet

    How you feed your body has a significant impact on your heart health. Your food choices impact your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, all of which contribute to your risk for heart disease.

    Here are a few heart healthy foods to include in your diet:

    Fish - Fish is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce heart disease risk, blood clots, and stroke, relieve depression, and help fight certain cancers.

    Garlic - Garlic is a source of allicin, which has been shown to lower blood pressure. Around 10,000 mg of allicin (~4 garlic cloves) is needed daily for a blood pressure lowering effect. Studies show the average reduction in systolic blood pressure to be 5-8 mm Hg.

    Pinto Beans - Pinto beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Aim for 25-35 grams of dietary fiber daily. Dietary fiber lowers cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar, prevents constipation, reduces risk of colon cancer, and increases satiety.


    You can learn more about a healthy diet for healthy heart here.

    #5 Manage Your Stress

    Evidence continues to grow that your stress level is connected to your heart disease risk. Stress factors may include job strain, social isolation and personality traits. More research is needed to determine how stress contributes to heart disease risk, but it's still important that you take steps to manage your stress level. You can manage stress through meditation techniques, adequate sleep, and exercise.

  • Se sure to sign up for the free report ‘How to Make Heart Healthy Changes into Lifelong Habits' at http://hearthealthmadeeasy.com.

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Published On: June 20, 2011