While heart attacks are common and incredibly scary, many of them are preventable. If you focus on practicing healthy habits, you are much more likely to keep your heart happy and healthy, with the goal of avoiding the number one worldwide cause of death for adults. Four areas are most vital to maintaining heart health:
Don’t smoke. People who smoke are 2-4 times more likely to experience heart disease than people who don’t smoke. Smoking can damage the lining of your arteries, which can ultimately result in chest pain, arrhythmias, heart attacks, and heart failure.
Maintain a healthy and balanced diet. There are a lot of healthy choices available, especially if you take the time to plan your meals ahead of time. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, skinless poultry and fish, nuts, and beans. And moderation is key when it comes to saturated fats, sodium, and sugar.
Exercise regularly. Try to get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (i.e. brisk walking) per week (which is only about 21 minutes per day). If you’re able, rotate in some vigorous activity such as running, swimming, biking, or hiking uphill.
Sustain a healthy weight. If you eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking, you’re more likely to maintain a healthy weight. And maintaining a healthy weight contributes to your overall health and wellness.
Wellness coaching is available at no charge for Kaiser Permanente members to manage your weight, quit tobacco, reduce stress, get more active, or make healthier food choices.
Some additional tips for preventing heart disease are:
- Maintain healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels
- Limit alcohol intake (one drink a day or less)
- Manage stress with helpful tools like meditation, yoga, massage, or breathing exercises
- Seek help for issues with depression or mental health
To learn more about how to prevent heart disease, along with common risks and symptoms, visit this website to read an article written by Emil Thattassery, MD, one of our Permanente cardiologists.