Chapter 6 : Prevention: The Best Medicine for Heart Disease

Heart disease can be extremely frightening. However, even though it is one of the most common illnesses in the U.S today, it is also one of the most preventable. Basically, most of the lifestyle changes that treat heart disease will also help prevent it if you don't have it already.  Here is a quick rundown of some excellent ways to prevent heart disease.

  • Exercise - Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise into your daily life. Park a little farther away from work, take the stairs, go to the gym…simply moving more will help reduce your risk of coronary artery disease.
  • Tobacco Use - To reduce your risk of heart disease, quit smoking.
  • Drinking - One alcoholic drink a day should be fine, and may even protect against heart disease. However, binge drinking can damage your heart. Therefore, you can't just refrain from drinking that one glass a day for a whole month and then go to a keg party.
  • Diet - Eat a low fat, low cholesterol diet that contains whole grains and lots of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain chemicals called antioxidants that may help prevent damage to your arterial walls. Also, try to keep your salt intake down, as too much salt can raise your blood pressure. Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, soybeans, flaxseed and walnuts, may help reduce your risk as well.
  • Stress - Learn to handle stress gracefully. Don't let unpleasant situations make you angry or get under your skin. Take time off to relax and engage in a hobby that you enjoy. Learning meditation or scheduling a massage might also help.
  • See your doctor regularly - Your doctor can monitor risk factors and may recommend other preventative therapies as needed.

If you are a parent, it's also important to encourage your kids to develop heart healthy habits now. Another concern that relates to children and heart disease is the high levels of childhood obesity that have been observed recently. Kids are constantly bombarded with ads for junk food and soda, they don't get to play outside as much as they used to, and recess is being cut out of many schools.

However, evidence is growing that atherosclerosis can start in children over 10 if they have high cholesterol levels. So, even if your child is normal, it's important to encourage him or her to develop healthy habits now. This is one of the most important things you can do as a parent, because it will keep them from experiencing heart disease when they are older. This is one of the best gifts you can give as a parent - a healthy life for your children!

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