February is Heart Health Awareness Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Heart disease refers to several types of conditions that can cause heart attacks or strokes.
It’s important to know the risk factors associated with heart disease. The risk factors include age, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
“High blood pressure; think about any hose in your house if it has a lot of pressure it may burst and then of course cholesterol that is the actual backbone of the plaque that builds in the arteries of our heart and our body,” said Viet Le, PA-C, Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute
Gender is also a factor.
“As we get older something is going to take us, but we are more likely to experience heart attack. We are more likely to experience stroke as we age. Men more than women, but one in three men and one in three women. Women tend to have it ten years later so age and gender for women,” said Le.
There are simple lifestyle changes everyone can make to help reduce their risk of heart disease.
- Reach and keep a healthy weight. You’ll reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes risk, hitting three key risk factors at once.
- Trim saturated fat and salt from your diet. When you can, trade butter for heart-healthy canola or olive oil. Swap red meat for seafood, a good source of omega-3 fats that help reduce triglycerides, clotting, and blood pressure.
- Move more. Exercising at a moderate to high intensity for 40 minutes on average, 3 to 4 days a week, can lower your blood pressure, strengthen your heart, decrease stress, and result in weight loss.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is the most common risk factor for women and triples your heart attack risk.
- De-stress daily. Finding ways to defuse stress will help slow your breathing and heart rate as you lower your blood pressure.
“Certainly if you have these risk factors, you already have a diagnosis of high blood pressure ,diabetes or you’ve noticed you’re overweight and not been moving; these things are going to help you, but I would say everyone across the board will feel better. Their quality of life and overall health will improve as you follow these five simple steps,” said Le.