According to the CDC, about 655,000 people die of heart disease every year, which is 1 out of every 4 deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people, regardless of age, race, or ethnicity, in the U.S.
As this health condition is unfortunately so common, we want to promote healthy living tips and tools you can use in your daily life. Making small lifestyle changes can help prevent vascular diseases like peripheral artery disease (PAD).
PAD occurs when plaque, a combination of fats and cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, collects in the walls of the arteries. The buildup in the arteries causes them to narrow, blocking the flow of blood to your limbs, particularly to your legs. If you believe you are at risk for PAD, it is important to seek a consultation with a specialist at USA Vascular Centers, as it is a progressive disease that may cause heart attack or stroke if left untreated.
Learn Your Family’s Medical History
Being knowledgeable about your family’s medical history can save your life. Talk to your relatives to gather information and do some research on your own about which conditions, like vascular disease, run in your family. Being aware of your risks for specific conditions can help prevent future health issues and help your doctor make the best treatment recommendations.
Visit the Doctor
Visiting the doctor can help prevent future health conditions by diagnosing symptoms for early intervention with treatment. Vascular conditions like PAD progress over time, making it best to seek treatment before symptoms worsen. Annual physicals can monitor your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Smoking contributes to atherosclerosis, which is a major cause of peripheral artery disease and heart disease. When you smoke, your arteries weaken, which puts you at a greater risk for developing PAD. If left untreated, PAD increases your risk of blood clots, limb amputation, or even death. The best course is to limit your risk by trying to quit smoking. If you need support to help you quit smoking, ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs.
It is important to make sure before you start any new physical activity, particularly if you have PAD, to consult with your doctor to determine the best level of exercise for you. When you have vascular diseases like PAD, your arteries are narrower and keep oxygen, nutrients, and blood flow getting to certain areas of your body. Having this condition can stop the correct amount of oxygen and energy for muscles exertion, making certain exercises less safe.
Don’t sit all day at work
Sitting or standing all day at work can hinder healthy circulation and decrease overall brain function. It is important to take a break and go for a walk or try to take the stairs instead of the elevator if you work in a sedentary workplace. If you mostly stand in one place all day at work, try to find a place to pace or move around and make sure to take breaks to rest your legs. Adding this to your daily routing can help lower your risk of vascular diseases, diabetes, and chronic back pain.
Stretch your limbs
Stretching can be used to lower stress, as well as improve circulation through the muscles and limbs. Stretching 15 minutes a day decreases your chance of injury and helps focus your mind.
Get active and exercise
Physical activity not only helps prevent heart disease, but it also can improve your overall mental and physical health. Take a walk outside, go for a bike ride, or lift weights to improve your circulation. If you are interested in lifting weights, know that you don’t have to bench press heavy amounts for this to help your health. Even lifting small amounts like 5 to 15 lbs. is beneficial to get your blood flowing. Varying your speed and intensity during aerobics can help motivate you and give your metabolism a boost. However, if you have a health condition that limits your mobility like PAD, speak with your doctor before participating in high impact cardio workouts.
Maintain Your Diet
An important part of maintaining your heart health is having a good diet. Some suggestions for sustaining the best food for your heart are:
- Limit your fast food and junk food intake
- Increase your intake of rich omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats from foods like avocados and salmon are linked to improved heart and brain health due to being rich in good cholesterol.
- Cook with olive or avocado oil. Avocado oil reduces cholesterol, improves overall heart health, has many antioxidants, and helps prevent arthritis and gum disease. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help prevent strokes or heart attacks.
- Limit sugary beverages. Drink more water and skip sugary beverages, especially anything made with high fructose corn syrup or large amounts of sugar per serving. Check your coffee creamer and your favorite drink from your neighborhood coffee spot: they can have surprising amounts of sugar.
- Eat more nuts and beans. Nuts and beans are a significant protein source. They assist with heart health, reduce the risk of cancer, and help in preventing diabetes.
- Make room for eggs. Eggs are another way to get protein, vitamin B2, healthy fats, vitamin D, and other minerals. Avoid the egg yolk if you want to stay away from added cholesterol and try to use options like garlic or onions as seasoning instead of salt.
- Avoid processed lunch meat. Pre-packaged lunch meats are often cured with harmful chemicals and nitrates that are linked to certain cancers and vascular disease. They also contain large amounts of sodium that can raise your blood pressure, putting you at risk for PAD and other vascular diseases.
Close friendships, family ties, and relationships improve both mental and physical health. Some of the benefits include lowering your stress levels, decreasing blood pressure, improved immunity, and even prevent dementia.
Lower your Stress
Everyone experiences stress from time to time. If you are experiencing high levels of stress, make sure to consult with your physician. Stress increases cortisol, which may cause weight gain or lead to other unhealthy habits. When you find the best way to lower your stress levels, you can lower the risk factor for heart disease.
Get enough sleep
Sleeping can help you stay at a healthy weight, lower your risk of heart disease, and reduce overall stress. Doctors advise that adults get an average of six to eight hours of sleep every night. However, we know that’s not always possible. Try to set a consistent bedtime, rest on your days off, and even schedule naps if you can. If you get less sleep than you need, you will start having “sleep debt,” meaning that you may experience a decline in physical and mental performance.
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Maintaining a healthy heart is an important part of your wellbeing. If you have or are at risk for PAD, taking steps to improve your heart health can help promote better circulation and prevent your symptoms from getting worse. At USA Vascular Centers, our doctors specialize in vascular care and can make personalized treatment recommendations, including how to keep your heart healthy. Schedule an appointment with us online or call 888.773.2193 .