What Are Abcs Of Heart Disease Prevention: Expert Tell You

[Summary of Content] Discover the ABCs of heart disease prevention: lifestyle changes, healthy eating, regular exercise, stress management, and the power of medications. Join the million hearts movement.

The Importance of Lifestyle Modifications

Making simple changes to your lifestyle modifications can go a long way in reducing your risk of heart disease. More than one million Americans die from heart disease, and lifestyle changes could potentially save a large majority of these lives through the million hearts initiative. Things like quitting smoking,limiting alcohol intake and managing stress properly are important modifications to prioritize.
More comprehensive information and care guidelines can be read here.

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Healthy Eating Habits for a Strong Heart

Eating a diet that is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugars while high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins is vital for heart health. Focus on the DASH dietwhich has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve heart health. Here are the major eating strategies:

• Reduce saturated fats by opting for lean meats, low-fat dairy and plant-based oils. Limit red meat to twice per week.

• Limit processed foods,trans fats and fried foods. Read nutrition labels carefully and limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day.

• Eat at least 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily for fiber, antioxidants and nutrients.

• Make half your plate whole grains like whole wheat pasta, brown rice and oatmeal.Limit refined grains.

• Eat heart-healthy proteins including nuts,legumes,beans,fish and lean meat.

• Limit added sugars and sweetened beverages. Replace with naturally sweet fruits.

• Use heart-healthy spices like garlic,turmeric,ginger and basil which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The DASH diet focuses on:

FruitsVegetablesFat-free/low-fat dairyFish/poultry/beansNuts/seedsWhole grains
4-5 servings4-5 servings2-3 servings2 or more servings4-5 servings per week6-8 servings
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Regular Exercise: A Key to Heart Health

Regular exercise is a key component of heart health and disease prevention. Exercise can:

• Lower bad LDL cholesterol levels by up to10%

• Reduce blood pressure by an average of 5-7 points

• Improve heart function and maximum oxygen uptake

• Help manage and lose weight which reduces strain on the heart

Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity to achieve benefits. Moderate intensity means raising your heart rate to around 110-130 beats per minute. Vigorous activity raises it to 130-170 beats per minute.

Aerobic exercise includes:

Walking briskly(3-4mph)





In addition to aerobic exercise,

Strength training at least twice per week helps build muscle and strengthen your heart.

Flexibility exercises like yoga can aid cardiovascular fitness and reduce stress.

You don’t need to do it all at once! Short 10 minute bursts of activity throughout the day add up and still lower your risk. The key is to make exercise a habit. Start slow and set achievable targets that you can gradually build upon.

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Managing Stress for a Healthy Heart

High levels of chronic stress can damage body tissues over time and increase your risk for health issues including heart disease. When you’re stressed:

• Your heart beats faster and blood pressure rises

• Inflammation increases throughout the body

Cortisol levels rise which can damage arteries

However, taking proactive measures to manage stress can lower your risk of heart issues significantly:

• Practice deep breathing, meditation or yoga daily for 10-20 minutes. This promotes relaxation and reduces cortisol.

• Get at least 7-9 hours of good quality sleep nightly. Lack of sleep raises stress hormones and blood pressure.

• Prioritize hobbies, social interaction and physical activity. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relieve stress.

• Improve your overall mental and emotional health through talk therapy or lifestyle changes. Heart-healthy habits also reduce depression and anxiety.

• Learn to recognize triggers and practice coping skills like assertive communication, setting boundaries and saying no.

• Avoid excessive alcohol, caffeine and smoking which exacerbate stress levels.

• Utilize mindfulness techniques like body scanning and gentle self-compassion.

Keep trying different stress management methods until you find those that work for you. Making stress relief a long-term habit can greatly lower your blood pressure and risk of heart disease.

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The Power of Medications in Preventing Heart Disease

While lifestyle changes are very effective in lowering heart disease risk, medications are often necessary to bring conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol under control. For some people at very high risk, medications are critical to preventing major cardiac events like heart attack and stroke. Common types are:

Antihypertensive drugs to lower blood pressure. This includes ACE inhibitors, ARBs, calcium channel blockers, diuretics and beta blockers.

Statins to significantly lower LDL cholesterol by up to 60%. They reduce inflammation and plaque buildup in arteries.

Aspirin in low doses (75-100mg) daily, especially for those with diabetes or who’ve already had a cardiac event. It reduces clotting and the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Nitrates to relieve chest pain by widening blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the heart.

Other drugs may be prescribed for conditions like atrial fibrillation and heart failure that impact the risk for heart disease. How well medications work varies by individual, so people may need to try:

Different types – ACE inhibitors work for some but ARBs may be required for others.

Higher doses – Starting low and titrating up is common.

Combination therapy– Using 2 or more drugs that work via different mechanisms.

Medication adherence is key. Missing doses can reduce efficacy and increase health risks. Some people may need to take medications lifelong, so discussing any concerns with your doctor and modifying lifestyle remain crucial parts of management.

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More Helpful Guide

Frequently Asked Question

How can I reduce my risk of heart disease and stroke through Million Hearts?

I can reduce my risk of heart disease and stroke through Million Hearts by eating healthy, being physically active, quitting smoking, and working with my doctor to control blood pressure and cholesterol.

What is the evidence that the Million Hearts model can reduce heart attacks and strokes?

Evidence shows that improving control of blood pressure and cholesterol through the Million Hearts model can significantly reduce heart attacks and strokes.

What can restaurants do to support the Million Hearts initiative?

Restaurants can support Million Hearts by promoting healthy menu options, reducing sodium and trans fats, implementing smoke-free policies, and limiting portion sizes.

What role do community health workers play in the Million Hearts initiative?

Community health workers play a key role in Million Hearts by linking underserved populations to health services, promoting prevention and wellness, and helping manage chronic conditions.

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