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Taking Care of Your Heart Health

Taking Care of Your Heart Health

Leading a Heart-Healthy Life

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, claiming a life every 37 seconds. With such shocking and high statistics, it is important to arm yourself with the necessary tools to reverse and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Below are some tips to keep your heart happy and healthy.

Risk Factors

There are many risk factors that influence your heart health. Estimates are that about half of all Americans have at least one risk factor. It is important to know whether or not you have any the following key risks so that you can adjust your lifestyle choices accordingly.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is one of the major risk factors for developing heart disease. This health condition happens when the pressure of your blood in your blood vessels is too high. Often called a “silent killer,” high blood pressure can have no symptoms; the only exception is when blood pressure levels are very high. If this condition goes unnoticed, it can negatively impact the function of several major organs, including your heart.

High Cholesterol

Your body naturally produces LDL (bad cholesterol); when an excessive amount is produced, this is referred to as high cholesterol. Lifestyle, behavioral choices and heredity factors can affect your LDL levels, including:

  • A sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise
  • Tobacco use
  • Obesity or excessive weight
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Family history

Alcohol and Tobacco Use

Drinking too much alcohol can increase levels of triglycerides in the body, which are fatty deposits in the blood that can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Tobacco use and secondhand smoke also increase your risk of developing heart disease in the following ways:

  • Smoking tobacco can damage blood vessels
  • Nicotine raises blood pressure
  • Carbon monoxide inhalation from smoke decreases the amount of oxygen your blood can carry

Diet Tips

Like many other areas of your health, a balanced diet and proper nutrition play a key role when it comes to maintaining a healthy heart. Adding the following foods to your diet can help reduce your risk for developing cardiovascular disease and other heart-related health conditions:

  • Leafy greens, like kale and spinach
  • Nuts, like almonds and walnuts
  • Oily fish, like salmon and mackerel
  • Whole grains
  • Garlic
  • Berries
  • Dark chocolate, in small amounts

Also, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by avoiding these foods:

  • Trans fats - artificial trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are found in many processed foods to give food a desirable taste and texture. These fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
  • Saturated fats
  • Sodium
  • Added sugars
  • Alcohol – limit consumption to no more than one to two alcoholic beverages daily

Signs of a Heart Attack

If you experience any of the following symptoms, it is important that you act quickly rather than waiting for your symptoms to become more severe, even when you’re not certain if you are having a heart attack.

Heart attack symptoms in men:

  • Chest discomfort or pain lasting more than a minute
  • Discomfort or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

While women can have the same symptoms as men, these cardiac attack symptoms are more common for women:

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Back pain
  • Jaw pain

If you suspect that you may be having a heart attack, seek immediate emergency care. Call 9-1-1 as it is the fastest way to receive immediate and life-saving medical attention.

Cardiovascular Care in Northeast Ohio

At Southwest General Medical Group, Inc., our team of physicians has years of experience in evaluating and caring for patients with various types of cardiovascular conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart valve disease, congestive heart failure and more. To learn more about our cardiovascular services or schedule an appointment, visit our website.