By Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain
Year-round, it is important to understand ways to lower your risk of developing heart disease. In the United States, heart disease is the number one cause of death in both men and women. Heart disease refers to various conditions that disrupt the normal function of the heart and its surrounding blood vessels. The most common cause of heart disease today is atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque in the arteries. This buildup inhibits blood flow and causes blockages, but may be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
This dangerous plaque buildup can occur when your cholesterol gets too high. A well-balanced diet and regular exercise are vital to keeping cholesterol levels in check. For adults, we recommend incorporating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your meals and avoiding foods high in sugar or sodium. Physical activity helps lower cholesterol by getting your heart rate up. Fit at least 30 minutes of exercise into your daily schedule to strengthen the heart muscle and lower your risk of heart disease.
Stress and smoking are other known risk factors for developing heart disease. Both may cause your blood pressure to rise, increasing your chances of clotting and of a heart attack. While stress is common, according to the Surgeon General, cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and deaths in the United States.
Annual physicals are also an important preventative measure to ensure that your heart functions properly. Your physician can provide you with dietary counseling to help you understand your recommended nutritional intake and amount of daily exercise. If you smoke, your physician can share with you resources to help you quit. Consult your physician with questions you may have on how to keep your cardiovascular system working properly.
Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain is a general family medicine practitioner at Family Medicine Associates of Texas in Carrollton. She thoroughly enjoys improving the health and lives of individuals ranging from young children to adulthood. For more information, call 972-394-8844, or visit texasmedicine.com.