Heart Healthy Habits
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. affecting approximately 655,000 a year. According to Sudhaker H. Nayak MD, a cardiologist at PIH Health, many factors such as age, gender, family history, high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking, impact heart health. Though there is no single measure to stop heart disease, various practices can help prevent a potentially catastrophic event.
Age, gender, and family history play a part in a person’s chances of heart disease. If the disease tends to occur in within the family, there is a greater chance that it could develop. One important topic in the medical community is heart disease and women. According to Dr. Nayak, women commonly overlook the fact that heart disease is still the number one cause of death, even above cancers.
“Heart disease is not just a problem for men--it has been the number one cause of death for women for many years,” said Dr. Nayak. “Studies have shown that some diagnostic tests and therapeutic measures produce different outcomes in women than in men. That is why there is currently a big push to educate women on the effects of heart disease.”
Where family history, gender and age cannot be controlled, other factors such as food choices and exercise can be easily controlled to provide a much healthier lifestyle for the heart. Unfortunately, there are misconceptions and misleading information about preventing heart disease. One of the misconceptions involves the idea of “eating right.” To some, eating right may mean skipping a meal, eating certain kinds of food or totally removing certain nutrients on a diet in order to loose weight. For example, some diets suggest staying away from fats and cholesterol entirely, although the body needs mono and poly unsaturated fats, also known as the “good” fats and good cholesterols to keep it healthy. Maintaining this balance is essential to a lifestyle that will keep the heart healthy and active.
One preventative measure that Dr. Nayak recommends is smoking cessation. “You can eat right all you want and even take all the right medications, but continued smoking is going to undermine any effort to reduce future cardiovascular problems,” said Dr. Nayak.
A healthy lifestyle is an important preventative tool when it comes to heart disease. Maintaining a balanced diet, not smoking and addressing other modifiable risk factors is crucial in preventing heart disease. Only you can control what you do to your body.