By Ron Todaro, RN, COHN-S
Cardiovascular diseases are conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and stroke. Some of these conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, have no obvious symptoms, but some may have symptoms such as pain, confusion, swelling, or shortness of breath. It’s important to know your risk factors for these cardiovascular conditions and what you can do to avoid a diagnosis or manage an existing condition.
Heart Disease Prevention: Managing Your Modifiable Risk Factors
Treatment of heart disease can be difficult. That’s why it’s better to try to prevent these health conditions, particularly in people with known cardiovascular disease risks. But how do you prevent heart disease? How do you maintain good heart health?
It may seem simple, but for the most part, lifestyle plays a huge role in keeping the heart healthy and reducing cardiovascular disease risks. Many of these suggestions are probably familiar to most people. They include:
- Managing your stress levels
- Eating fruits, vegetables, and foods low in fat and cholesterol — maintaining a mostly plant-based diet
- Becoming active (at least 30 minutes per day) and either maintaining your current weight or losing weight if you are overweight.
- Monitoring your blood pressure. If it’s high, get it under control following your doctor’s guidelines.
- Screening your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. If your numbers have increased, you may be able to reverse the trend.
- Following treatment guidelines if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes
Eat right, exercise, don’t smoke, and talk to your doctor about any health concerns you have or any symptoms you notice. The earlier heart problems are detected, the better the chance you can begin treatment before any long-term damage has occurred.