Heart disease is the #1 one cause of death in our nation, responsible for in 1 in 4 deaths. It is not just one disease, but a range of conditions that affect your heart, including blood vessel diseases, heart rhythm problems, and heart defects that are present at birth.
But there is some good news! Many forms of heart disease can be prevented when you make healthy choices that lower your risks. Good choices can also help you manage existing health conditions. Even small changes can make a big difference. To lower your risk, consider improving your lifestyle behaviors and:
- Lose weight if you need to. More than one out of every three adults is overweight. The problem affects kids, as well. Being overweight puts a strain on your heart.
- Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke. Smoking increases your risk for heart disease and stroke, especially if you have family history. Smoking decreases your ability to exercise, increases the chance for blood clots, and decreases the good cholesterol (the HDLs) in your body.
- Control your cholesterol and blood pressure. Both high cholesterol and high blood pressure increase your risks of heart attack and stroke. These conditions don’t cause symptoms (you cannot “feel” if you have them) so it’s important to know your numbers.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. Experts encourage no more than one drink a day for women and two for men.
- Move more. Exercise helps your body work better. It can help keep weight off, improve your cholesterol numbers, and for people diabetes, help control blood sugar.
- Eat healthy. Vegetables and fruit have nutrients and protective qualities that keep your body healthy. Unhealthy fats, processed foods, and fried foods can increase your risks.
Talk with your doctor about preventing heart disease or managing your risks. Consider getting together with your Charlestown friends and neighbors to cook a healthy meal, take a walk, or encourage each other to practice other good health habits!
Find ideas for heart health at: https://healthyforgood.heart.org/
This document is not a substitute for your care team's medical advice and should not be relied upon for treatment for specific medical conditions.