Heart disease is a leading cause of death. Although it does not mean much to most people until they are in the emergency room or the cardiac unit being diagnosed with a heart attack. Seeing all the nurses and doctors hook them up to machines to monitor their heart, most ask me what could I have done to prevent this?
I tell them the story I am about to tell you now.
There are things that you can do to reduce your risk.
You have the power to change your smoking habits, food intake, exercise routines and sleeping habits.
# 1. Don’t smoke
The chemicals in the tobacco damages your heart and blood vessels, leading to the narrowing of your blood vessels called atherosclerosis. No amount of smoke is safe, the more you smoke the more you are at risk for a heart attack.
The good news is that when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops to almost that of a non-smoker after 5 years.
For tips on how to quit smoking go to my blog here: http://drpetereppinga.com/?p=209
#2. Eat a heart healthy diet.
The DASH Diet – Dietary approaches to stop Hypertension. The DASH diet prioritizes vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products and limits fats, cholesterol, and sodium.
The Mediterranean Diet – The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products.
Eating a total of 5-10 servings of vegetables/day. Also my favorite…..eating salmon may reduce your risk of a heart attack.
Having a healthy diet also means watching your alcohol intake. For a healthy adult that means 1 drink/day for women and 2 drinks/day for men under age 65.
#3. Get regular health screens from your family doctor.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your heart and blood vessels. But without testing for them, you probably won’t know whether you have these conditions. Regular screening can tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to take action.
Blood pressure – Adults (anybody over 18 years) should have their blood pressure checked at least every two years. You may need more-frequent checks if your numbers aren’t ideal or if you have other risk factors for heart disease. Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury.
Cholesterol levels – If you’re healthy, you can start having your cholesterol screened at age 40 for men and 50 for women.
Diabetes screening – Since diabetes is a risk factor for developing heart disease, you may want to consider being screened for diabetes. Talk to your doctor about when you should have a fasting blood sugar test to check for diabetes. Depending on your risk factors, such as being overweight or having a family history of diabetes, your doctor may recommend early screening for diabetes. If your weight is normal and you don’t have other risk factors for type 2 diabetes, in Canada we recommend checking a fasting blood glucose at age 40, and then retesting every 3 years.
#4. Get enough quality sleep
Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you wake up in the morning and you feel refreshed then your getting enough sleep. If you’re waking up and hitting your snooze button 3 times and your struggling to get up, then you need more sleep.
Many people believe a simple yawn is a sign of not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is much more than that and it can harm your health. People who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression.
You may have some physical troubles with sleeping such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Please talk to your doctor or health care professional about this and let them take a proper history and physical with you. Treatments for obstructive sleep apnea include losing weight or using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device that keeps your airway open while you sleep. CPAP treatment appears to lower the risk of heart disease from sleep apnea.
Cheers to you and I keeping a healthy heart. A healthy heart is a healthy life!
Love my life and yours,
Dr. Peter Eppinga M.D.