Have A Great Relationship With Your Doctor

4 Small Steps To Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease

by Terry Wilson

Taking a proactive approach to reducing your risk of heart disease can seem overwhelming. However, simple steps to improve your risk factors can not only lower your risk of heart disease and related conditions, but can also help you and your doctor determine if you need additional testing, monitoring or treatment.

Improve Your Cardiovascular Fitness

Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your cardiovascular fitness by helping to shed unwanted pounds, increasing your heart strength and lowering your resting blood pressure. You not only want to engage in cardiovascular exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, five times per week, but you want to make sure you are constantly challenging your heart.

You should aim to improve your endurance by slowing increasing the amount of time you exercise and the intensity of your exercise. If you are new to exercising, walking is a good place to start, and you can always make it challenging. Once you become more accustomed to walking longer distances, add in power walking or walking up inclines to build your endurance.

Investigate Your Family History

Family history can play a critical role in the development of early-onset heart disease. No matter your gender, make sure you pay attention to both sides of your family. Look for close relatives who had their first heart attack early in life, such as before age 50. The early occurrence of strokes in your family can also be important for determining your risk factors.

Another important consideration is your family's history of chronic diseases, especially if it is a multi-generational problem. Although many times lifestyle factors can significantly contribute to chronic disease, you may find your individual genetics makes you more prone to develop chronic diseases earlier in life.

Have Regular Physicals

You should have an annual physical, and you may need to have check-ups more often if you have certain medical problems. Simple tests, such as listening to your heart or having blood tests to determine your levels of systemic inflammation, may catch early signs of heart problems. If your doctor determines your blood pressure is elevated during your physical, make sure you keep a check on your numbers. Your doctor should ask you to return soon for another blood pressure check, even if you only visit the nurse for a quick blood pressure reading.

Hypertension can easily go undiagnosed for many years if it is brushed-off as "white coat" hypertension. Your blood pressure needs to be elevated at three separate times before a diagnosis of hypertension can be made. Take it upon yourself to check your blood pressure at local pharmacies or buy your own monitor if you are concerned. Never feel bad for bringing the problem up to your doctor if you feel like it is being overlooked.

Supplement Your Diet

Even if you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, you may want to consider ways of increasing the amount of heart-healthy nutrients in your diet. Co-Q10 is one supplement you should consider taking if you have hypertension or notice your blood pressure is slowly creeping up as you age. As an antioxidant, Co-Q10 also has protective benefits for the heart and blood vessels.

And although you may be familiar with the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, you need to ensure the supplements you take also contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are different types of omega-3s not found in every supplement. Both EPA and DHA have many heart-healthy benefits because they reduce inflammation. If you have problems with your blood sugar or insulin resistance, you can also take cinnamon in supplement form. Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease and tackling insulin resistance before it turns into diabetes can make your blood sugar much easier to control.

Small steps can make big changes when it comes to your heart. A proactive approach to your heart health can help you reduce preventable risk factors and potentially catch problems before serious, irreversible damage occurs.

If you are experiencing chest pain or are concerned that you may be at risk for heart disease, you can also contact a professional cardiologist, such as those at Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology.