Are you aware that heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes that take away the lives of people in America? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease and stroke respectively are the first and fifth major reasons of death in the United States. The more alarming news is that over 877,500 Americans die due to heart disease, stroke, or other cardiovascular diseases every year. In this article, we take you through essential strategies for preventing heart disease and stroke.
6 Essential Strategies For Preventing Heart Disease And Stroke
1. Eat a heart-healthy diet
A healthy diet is vital in protecting your heart, improving blood pressure and cholesterol, and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Thus, make sure that you include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, plant-based proteins, nuts, legumes, lean animal proteins, and fish in your diet. Also, limit the intake of sweetened drinks, refined carbohydrates, and processed meats.
While buying packaged foods, go through the nutrition facts label and reduce the consumption of sodium, added sugars, and saturated fats. Also, stay away from trans fat which is commonly found in fried fast food, chips, and baked goods.
2. Engage in regular physical activity
Do you feel lethargic to do exercise? It’s time to realize that engaging in physical activity regularly can lower the risk of heart disease. Try to aim for at least
- 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week, it can be walking at a brisk pace.
- 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, an example is running.
- Two or more strength training sessions every week.
Also, keep in mind that sitting less and moving more is quite important.
3. Say no to smoking and tobacco
The best time to quit smoking is now. You might be surprised to know that the risk of heart disease starts dropping within a day after quitting smoking. After a year, there will be a drastic reduction in that risk to about half that of a smoker. Be aware that there is no such thing as a safe tobacco product. If you don’t have the habit of smoking, never start. Also, try avoiding passive smoking as well.
4. Maintain a healthy body weight
Checking your body mass index (BMI) is quite important. A BMI of 25 or higher indicates that you are overweight. It is associated with higher cholesterol and blood pressure and an elevated risk of heart disease and stroke. If you are overweight or obese, aim to lose weight. Seek the help of your healthcare team regarding a weight loss plan.
5. Get your health screening tests done regularly
High cholesterol and high blood pressure can cause damage to your heart and blood vessels. People who are 40 years or older should get a blood pressure test done every year. The same applies to cholesterol testing as well and those above 65 should do it once a year. When it comes to diabetes tests, one should undergo type 2 diabetes screening at the age of 45, provided you are not overweight and don’t have a family history of diabetes. If you have any of these risk factors, any early screening is recommended.
6. Take medicines on time
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, or high blood sugar, your doctor may prescribe statins or other medications to bring them within the limits. Make sure that you take all the medicines as directed. However, unless and until a doctor suggests, don’t take aspirin as a preventive measure. The reason is that if you never had a heart attack or stroke in the past, a daily aspirin may pose a risk of bleeding.
Hope now you have realized the importance of following the essential strategies for preventing heart disease and stroke. Last, but not least it is also important to get quality sleep and manage stress. Adults need a minimum of seven hours of sleep at night as lack of sleep is linked to high blood pressure and heart attack. To manage stress, practicing relaxation exercises, mindfulness, yoga, and meditation can be quite effective. Wish you all the best in your efforts against heart disease and stroke.