May 22, 2019 by John Fernandez and Tanya Racoobian
How to Beat Heart Disease (Video)
Are you at risk for heart disease? If you haven’t had a checkup in a long time, you could be. About half of Americans (47 percent) have at least one of these three risk factors — high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Your odds increase significantly if you add other common medical conditions caused or made worse by certain lifestyle choices, including: diabetes, being overweight or obese, poor dieting, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use.
About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths, says the CDC. It is still the No. 1 cause of death, although cancer (the No. 2 cause of death) is likely to catch up fairly soon as advances in prevention, detection and treatment have been steadily lowering the number of deaths from heart disease.
Video by George Carvalho and Alcyene C. de Almeida Rodrigues
Nonetheless, too many Americans still don’t realize that they can beat heart disease with lifestyle modifications and regular checkups. Annual physicals with your primary doctor will generate a full understanding of your vital numbers, including levels that determine blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
“Heart disease goes up with aging,” says Barbara Socha, M.D., a primary care physician with Baptist Health Primary Care. “There’s nothing you can do about that. But you can: exercise; control your weight; keep your blood pressure under control, keep sodium in your diet low, watch your cholesterol and get screened for diabetes. Risk factor modification is the most important part. “
Knowing your family history of heart disease is important, but knowing and treating risk factors is the biggest challenge.
“Genetic predisposition for heart disease is important, but a lot of is environmental and things you can change,” says Dr. Socha.
Guidelines for Physical Activity
The American Heart Association recommends:
- For overall cardiovascular health: At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days per week for a total of 150 minutes. OR: At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
- Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity: At least two days per week for additional health benefits.
- For lowering blood pressure and cholesterol: An average 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity three or four times per week.
“It’s easier said than done for all of us. But most people realize they need to do things” to beat heart disease.
Heart Healthy Diet Recommendations
The AHA also provides guidance on heart healthy nutrition. Limit saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you choose to eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available. A healthy diet emphasizes:
- A variety of fruits and vegetables,
- Whole grains,
- Low-fat dairy products,
- Skinless poultry and fish
- Nuts and legumes
- Non-tropical vegetable oils
Watch the video now as Dr. Socha provides an overview of choices you can make to prevent or treat heart disease.