Heart to Heart
Healthy practices and medical innovations for keeping your heart happy
Of the health issues facing our nation today, heart disease in all its forms is one of many that is highly preventable yet still remains a threat. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cardiovascular disease consists of conditions that include diseased vessels, structural problems, and blood clots. Luckily, everything from lifestyle choices to innovations in heart maintenance and medications can aid in the fight for cardiovascular wellness.
Make prevention your priority. Everyone’s health is influenced by a mixed bag of choices, environment, and genetic predispositions. As Heart.org reports, though, the data consistently shows that when a person maintains a healthy diet and regular physical activity, the risk for heart disease is dramatically lessened.
Nothing helps like healthy eating. Develop dietary habits to curb high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar—the main contributors to heart disease. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Limit processed foods. Try foods high in fiber, low in saturated fats, and avoid all trans fats to help prevent excessive cholesterol. Watch your salt intake to keep blood pressure from skyrocketing. Reduce sugar consumption, which is a huge contributor to diabetes. Men should limit alcohol intake to two drinks per day; women one daily. And of course, abstaining from all tobacco products is a must in the avoidance of heart disease.
Exactly What Are Trans Fats?
Artificial trans fats are added to foods and appear on labels as “partially hydrogenated oils.” The most likely culprits are fried foods and baked goods such as doughnuts, cakes, pies, biscuits, frozen pizza, cookies, and crackers. Watch out for margarines and spreads. Before you indulge in your favorite snack, read the ingredient list and steer clear of trans fats. Your heart will thank you for it.
Exercise isn’t the only way to stay active. Physical activity is more than just getting in a good workout. Adults should strive for the equivalent of two to three hours of moderate-intensity pursuits each week. Activities such as brisk walking, bicycling, and gardening are all beneficial. Kids of all ages need at least an hour of vigorous play every single day. Cardiovascular disease risk is also increased by being overweight. A simple calculation of your body mass index at the doctor’s office (or search “BMI” online) can determine if your weight is in the right range for your height.
Medical innovations should not be overlooked. Modern science has broadened the spectrum of possibility in the fight against cardiovascular disease. Simple innovations from support and monitoring groups to advances in drug therapy all play important parts.
Regular check-ups are crucial. The simple act of getting annual well-being exams can help you stay on top of heart disease. Discovering symptoms early allows for earlier intervention. Additionally, online groups for tracking doctor appointments, self-monitoring, and medication management have been shown to be extremely effective. Knowing the signs leads to survival. Perhaps one of the most common sense approaches to surviving more advanced heart disease is to know the signs and symptoms of heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest. When an emergency does arise, a person will be able to recognize their symptoms sooner to quickly get the help and life-saving interventions they need.
New classes of drugs cut cholesterol. The FDA recently approved PCSK9 inhibitors to help reduce cholesterol for patients who cannot take traditional statins. The new drugs are self-injectable and have been shown to dramatically lower LDL cholesterol to unprecedented levels with few adverse side effects. The newly approved treatment is available by prescription and goes by the brand name Praluent. Another new prescription drug, Entresto, has also been recently approved by the FDA. The drug has been shown to be effective in reducing strain on the heart and increasing survival rates after a patient is hospitalized for cardiac failure.
By Amanda Blair