Nearly 6 million Americans are living with heart failure. And millions more are living in a way that will undoubtedly lead to the same diagnosis.
While there are many factors that contribute to a person’s likelihood of heart failure, unhealthy lifestyle is by far the most common.
This is an unfortunate fact, because an unhealthy lifestyle is also the most avoidable cause of heart failure. It’s also the simplest to change.
Here are some familiar signs you may be setting your heart up for failure down the road:
- Smoking tobacco.
- Eating foods high in fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
- Not getting enough physical activity.
- Being obese.
These may look like big things to change, but odds are you don’t struggle with every single one of them. And all four of these things increase heart failure for one big reason:
High Blood Pressure.
That’s right. And 1 in 3 adults in America have high blood pressure.
If you currently smoke, start taking steps towards quitting. Smoke one less cigarette than you normally would, then do that again, and again, etc. You’ll be amazed at how much better you begin to feel.
“Reducing the average amount of salt or sodium that people eat from 3,400 milligrams (mg) to 2,300 mg per day—the level recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010—may reduce cases of high blood pressure by 11 million” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Neal Blank says, “If you already know you have hypertension, it is absolutely essential that you limit your intake of sodium each day to avoid more complications.”
Don’t add salt when cooking and avoid eating canned, packaged, and frozen foods as much as possible. Look for the fresh options when eating out.
Take a look at these 11 foods that can help lower your blood pressure.
“The Framingham Heart Study, a famous study for 44 years, estimated that excess body weight (including overweight and obesity), accounted for approximately 26 percent of cases of hypertension in men and 28 percent in women” –Obesity Action Coalition
This is a result of an unhealthy diet and complicated by too little physical activity.
30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week is all it takes.
Aerobics like running, biking, swimming, etc. can do wonders for your cardiovascular system, like lowering your blood pressure. Even if you get 20 minutes a day, it helps!
Check out our Fitness 101 class if you’re looking for a fresh start in getting active.
So What Are We Getting At?
You might be saying “I get it, I need to be healthier”.
So could everyone. That’s not the point. You could be an olympic athlete and still benefit from this advice.
“Typically you’ll find that half the people don’t know if they are at risk for hypertension, or what their cholesterol levels are because they haven’t had it checked. That’s a really important factor; those are the people that we want to get in to check these risk factors. The earlier the risks are diagnosed and treated, the more likely you are to avoid little problems like heart failure.”
Take control of your health.
To find health should be the object of the doctor.
Anyone can find disease. – Andrew Taylor Still
The doctors at Heritage believe this.
“If you have been avoiding taking care of your health, the best place for you to start is to establish care with a primary care physician.”
Don’t let people, stress, food, life make decisions about your health.
That is the simple change that will lead to lower blood pressure, a healthier heart and, yes, a healthier life.