At the top of the Center for Disease Control’s primary risk factors for all chronic diseases, including heart disease, is smoking. Eliminating all tobacco products will reduce your risk for heart disease. A variety of nicotine replacement treatments, as well as cessation support groups, are available to help you successfully quit. Consult your physician to determine which method best fits your lifestyle and smoking pattern.
Adhere to a Heart-healthy Diet
The American Heart Association recommends eating a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts, while limiting red meat and sugary foods and beverages. Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat. Eat fish at least twice a week – recent research shows that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease.
- Select fat-free, 1 percent fat and low-fat dairy products.
- Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans-fat in your diet.
- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
- Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt.
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation.
- Keep an eye on your portion sizes.
Physical activity helps reduce your chances of having a heart attack, so make exercise a priority. Choose an activity that you enjoy doing and talk with your health care provider about an exercise plan that meets your lifestyle, capabilities and needs. Regular physical activity can help relieve anxiety and depression, improve mental acuity and memory, enhance the immune system and reduce risk factors. Physical activity prolongs your optimal health.
Always consult your health care provider regarding your healthy diet and exercise requirements. Click here for information about the St. Luke’s Fitness & Sports Performance Centers.
Stress is a part of life but how you manage it makes a difference. Over time, high levels of stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and physical problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains, or irregular heartbeats. Although doctors don’t know exactly how stress raises the risk of heart disease, it’s thought poor habits – lack of exercise, smoking, drinking too much, poor diet – result from not managing stress.
We probably can’t eliminate all the stress from our lives, but these tips will help you better respond to it:
- Although some things will remain out of your control, change what you can.
- Exercise (with your physician’s approval).
- Relax every day. Meditation is a simple way to do this — even a few minutes can help. To meditate, head to a quiet spot, get in a comfortable position, and pick something to focus on — whether it's your breath or a word or phrase that is calming.
- Connect with positive people.
- Get enough rest. You can't manage stress effectively without rest. Establish a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
- Find meaning. Whether you do so through volunteering, your faith or your work, look for opportunities to get beyond your own experience and help someone else. It may put your own situation in a different perspective.
- Consider taking a stress management class or talking with a therapist for more ideas about how to curb your stress.