In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death. According to the CDC, one in two adults has high blood pressure, but only one in four adults is taking the necessary actions to keep it under control. Without prioritizing heart health, an individual could further increase their risk of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and even heart failure. When it comes to living a heart-healthy lifestyle, it's all about implementing habits that aid in the prevention of disease first. That's why Dr. Arash Bereliani at the Beverly Hills Institute for Cardiology and Preventive Medicine is a leader in the field of preventive cardiology. He helps patients with comprehensive treatment options that are personalized to them.
Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease that develops when blood vessels have trouble supplying blood to your heart. This is due to the cholesterol buildup in your artery walls, which affects the overall blood flow. And it's important for your heart to receive enough oxygen-rich blood to function properly. If it doesn't, this can result in a heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction. This is just one of the issues that can develop when you don't prioritize your heart and health. Managing heart disease can be done through eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. One other important factor to a healthy cardiovascular system is getting enough sleep. This is because the lack of good sleep can increase your risk of diabetes and hypertension.
Once you are diagnosed with heart disease or have any sort of chronic heart condition, you have to learn how to manage it and incorporate healthier lifestyle changes. Many doctors will suggest improving your heart and health by monitoring cholesterol levels, limiting salt intake, and avoiding fatty foods. They may also suggest you start exercising routinely to maintain a healthy weight. Those tend to be some of the more common strategies. Here are four little-known heart health tips that could greatly benefit you and your life in the long term.
1. Eliminate any unnecessary stressors.
As far as treatment options, it's common for people to start prioritizing a heart-healthy diet and weight management. But it's best not to neglect your mental health, too. People often forget how much mental health can make a big difference in your physical health in the long run. Poor mental health can easily exacerbate any existing medical conditions. In fact, stress is a major risk factor for high blood pressure. Many studies show that stress is linked to heart disease because people tend to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to manage their stress. Some people might opt for smoking or drinking. Meanwhile, others overeat and binge on junk food which results in high cholesterol. That's why it's important to examine the areas of your life that make you stressed out to decrease your risk of heart attack. Healthy eating is only one factor in heart health.
If your job causes you stress, it may be time to start looking for a new one to prevent yourself from developing any other health issues. Choose a low-pressure work environment that isn't as fast-paced. If that's not an option, you can start incorporating more downtime into your daily life. Experiencing extreme moments of stress can easily trigger a heart attack, so it's best to set aside time on multiple days of the week to relax. Try to lower your heart rate by investing in your free time and only listening to good news. Maybe you've just experienced a stressful life event, such as moving or losing your job. Reach out to support groups and prioritize taking care of your heart and health every step of the way. Disease control isn't just about weight loss. Try meditating for a few minutes every day or listening to a podcast as you practice deep breathing. Prioritize relaxation and learn how to decompress in stressful environments. These small steps make a huge difference. Reach out to your health care provider for more ways to manage stress and reduce the risk of heart disease. Don't underestimate the impact that daily activities have on your long-term heart health.
2. Avoid alcohol and sugar as much as possible.
When you have an unhealthy diet, your heart disease risk significantly increases. Managing your diet is key to a healthy lifestyle, but it's also key to good heart health. When you regularly consume food and drinks with a lot of sugar, you're consuming a lot of calories that lower your good cholesterol, known as HDL, or high-density lipoprotein. Sugar is also bad because it can increase risk of your body creating bad cholesterol, known as LDL, or low-density lipoprotein. Diets that include a lot of sweets can lead to serious problems in the long term. In fact, research shows that it can lead to a higher risk of heart disease even if you're at a healthy weight.
Meanwhile, excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to high blood pressure and stroke. If you already have heart problems, you need to think about how alcohol can interfere with the efficiency of your medications. It can even prevent them from working at all. So, the best rule when it comes to alcohol consumption is to always think before you drink. Having more than two servings of alcohol daily can increase the risk of blood clot development, which results in permanent damage and can even be fatal. People who suffer from irregular heart rhythms, have a history of stroke, have experienced heart failure, have cardiomyopathy, or have high blood pressure may need to avoid alcoholic beverages entirely. It's best to consult your cardiologist for advice on maintaining a balanced diet for a better heart and health.
3. Spend less time sitting and keep your body moving.
Besides an unhealthy diet, not getting enough physical activity is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. It's not just important to eat heart-healthy foods; it's crucial to also get regular physical activity several times a week. But exercise isn't the only factor to a healthy heart. In fact, Harvard Medical School has linked too much time sitting to heart attack and stroke. Even when you live an active lifestyle, it's important to be mindful of how many hours you spend sitting in a chair. According to the same Harvard study, people who spend five or fewer hours sitting down can decrease their risk of experiencing a stroke or cardiac arrest. When people spend 10 or more hours a day sitting, they are increasing their risk of developing heart disease.
Thankfully, there are modern solutions for those who may be working 9 to 5 and sitting at a desk for long periods of time. One of many healthy lifestyle changes you can incorporate is using a standing desk. Because these are adjustable, you can do your work sitting or standing upright to improve circulation and blood pressure. Offices have implemented the use of sit-stand desks to help their employees live healthy lifestyles, which makes sense when you consider how much of your life you are spending at work. As you can see, a heart-healthy diet isn't the only factor to living a long and happy life.
4. Monitor your blood pressure consistently.
Maintaining a healthy heart and preventing cardiovascular diseases is all about controlling your blood pressure. Dr. Arash Bereliani at the Beverly Hills Institute for Cardiology and Preventive Medicine runs diagnostic tests as a part of the preventive approach to cardiovascular disease. Monitoring your blood pressure numbers and making sure it's in a healthy range is just one of many heart health tips you need to incorporate into your life. For most adults, visiting your cardiologist once a year may be enough. But for those who are already suffering from a heart condition, you will need to take a blood pressure test more often than that. If you have higher blood pressure, the lifestyle changes recommended on this page are a great way to manage your hypertension and improve your quality of life. But if you don't test regularly, how will you know if your new habits are actually helping you achieve lower blood pressure and better heart health? You need a way to figure out what works best for your body to avoid worsening the condition of your heart disease.
These heart health tips are just a few ways to start making healthy choices. With the help of a cardiologist like Dr. Bereliani, you can identify if you have any major risk factors for developing heart disease as you get older. Early detection is essential to a long life. But if you already have high cholesterol or coronary heart disease or suffer from chest pain or any other condition, you need to seek professional help from a reliable medical doctor like Dr. Bereliani. Unfortunately, you can't just treat a heart condition through medication. You need to follow proper dietary guidelines, make smart food choices, get proper blood pressure readings, and incorporate healthier lifestyle changes to really impact your body and help your heart function properly.