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5 Ways to Prevent Heart Disease

5 Ways to Prevent Heart Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 630,000 Americans die from heart disease every year, making it the number one killer of both women and men in the United States. With that in mind, we sat down with Ryan Westbroek, FNP-C, to talk about the best ways to prevent heart disease:

Q: What is the most common form of heart disease?

A: I believe coronary artery disease is the most common heart disease in the United States. However, it’s important to remember that heart disease is far more complex than that simple answer might indicate. Your body is so complex, and your heart is at the core of absolutely everything that your body does – so if your heart isn’t doing well, it’s often the case that several other parts of your body aren’t doing well, either.

Q: What causes heart disease?

A: Heart disease can be caused and/or exacerbated by a number of things:

  • Diet – if you regularly eat food that is high in cholesterol, sugar, fat, or salt.
  • Smoking – heart attacks are far more common in smokers than in non-smokers.
  • Gender – men are at a slightly greater risk of heart disease than women.
  • Genetics – as with most other diseases, you are at a greater risk of developing heart disease if it runs in your family.
  • Age – it is possible that your heart and/or arteries might weaken as you get to retirement age, putting you at greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • High Blood Pressure – hypertension can cause any number of cardiovascular problems, from strokes to heart attacks.
  • Obesity – carrying excess weight can put a strain on many parts of your body, including your heart.
  • Stress – stress can be a leading cause of high blood pressure, potentially damaging your arteries and worsening other risk factors for heart disease.
  • Sleep Apnea – if your body isn’t getting enough oxygen while you sleep, it forces your heart to work harder and can eventually lead to congestive heart failure.

Q: What can we do to prevent heart disease?

A: The heart is a complex organ that is intricately connected to every part of your body, so there’s no simple answer to that question. However, there are a handful of things that you can do to lower your risk of heart disease:

  • Control Your Blood Pressure – I think controlling your blood pressure is probably the single most important thing you can do to keep your cardiovascular system healthy. Get your blood pressure checked at least once a year.
  • Get Plenty of Sleep – if you’re waking up every morning feeling tired, you might have sleep apnea. Talk to your doctor about that right away; not only can sleep apnea make you feel miserable, it can also be a major contributor to you eventually developing heart disease.
  • Exercise – exercising regularly can strengthen your heart and improve your circulation while also helping you maintain a healthy weight and lowering your blood pressure.
  • Manage Your Stress – Stress can make it difficult to sleep, increase your blood pressure, or can be a “trigger” for a heart attack. Try to manage your stress in healthy ways – maybe by listening to music or meditating. If stress continues to be a problem, consider seeing your doctor.
  • Eat Healthily – try to limit processed sugar, sodium, and saturated fats. Eat plenty of grains, fruits, and vegetables. The DASH diet is a great way to go.

Ryan Westbroek

To schedule an appointment with Ryan Westbroek, please click here or call 801-475-3800.