Mayo Clinic cardiologist Sharon Mulvagh, MD, had some excellent statistics and tips to share with us about healthy behaviors that can prevent heart disease.
In recent years, the number of deaths that are caused by heart disease has decreased due to advances in technology. However, even though the number of cardiovascular deaths is decreasing, women are still more susceptible than men when it comes to heart disease.
This overall decrease in cardiovascular disease-related deaths is not because we are preventing the disease, however, as statistics on the risk factor index are actually increasing due to unhealthy lifestyles.
In some groups, particularly in younger women ages 35-55, the occurrence of heart attacks is actually increasing due to unhealthy lifestyle habits. The good news is that there are preventative lifestyle habits women can adopt to prevent heart disease.
According to Dr. Mulvagh, there are four healthy behaviors to follow:
First, eat a healthy diet that is rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat sources of protein and a moderate amount of whole grain carbohydrates.
Next, it is important to stay physically active. For someone who is at his or her ideal weight, Dr. Mulvagh recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week. For someone trying to lose weight, this means one hour of exercise most days of the week.
Third, Dr. Mulvagh stresses the importance of being at a healthy body weight and having healthy BMI numbers.
Finally, Dr. Mulvagh emphasizes the importance of not smoking.
To help patients take the right steps toward a healthier lifestyle, Dr. Mulvagh has introduced a philosophy at the Mayo Clinic called the “5, 10 and 8 system.” This simple system breaks down as follows:
First, aim to incorporate 5 fruits and vegetables a day. Next, try to move an extra 10 minutes a day to get your body used to physical exercise. Finally, get 8 full hours of sleep. With this simple plan of attack, you’ll be able to take the right steps toward a healthier lifestyle and heart disease prevention.
For more tips for a healthy heart, view the slideshow below:
Ten minutes of exercise a day can drastically reduce your risk of heart disease. Some basic, quick exercises include taking the stairs at work, jogging around the block or taking the dog for a brisk walk.
What you eat makes a big difference for your heart. Try incorporating leafy greens, like spinach and chard, into your diet, substituting sugary snacks with fresh fruit and doubling up on veggies in recipes.
Exercise doesn't always have to be a drag! Some fun exercise options include jumping rope, biking, swimming or dancing.
To lower your risk of high blood pressure, eat fruits and vegetables at the beginning of your meal, try to maintain a weight in the “healthy” or “ideal” range and limit your alcohol intake.
Surprisingly, both smoking and sitting in a chair all day increase your risk of heart attack about the same amount. Get on your feet by walking around during television commercial breaks, standing up while you’re on the phone or getting off the bus one stop early.
Doctors recommend these tips if you're trying to quit smoking: 1. Focus on the reason you want to quit. 2. Ask a doctor for help quitting. 3. Get support from friends and family. 4. Relax! Stress makes quitting harder.
To work toward a better night’s sleep, try keeping a sleep diary to learn your patterns, and follow a strict sleep schedule, even during the weekend.
Doctors recommend turning off any digital screens at least one hour before bed. Then, do something relaxing like reading a book or listening to soothing music.
Whole grains can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Substitute whole grains into your diet with foods like whole-wheat bagels, wild rice and whole-wheat tortillas.
Sneak more fruits and veggies into your diet by having a fruit salad before dinner. Try fresh salsa with a few chips for a healthy snack or challenge yourself to try new fruits like jicama or papaya.
How healthy is your heart? Find out by taking the Heart Health Quiz here.
For informational purposes only. Please talk to your doctor about your individual situation. If you're having symptoms of a heart attack, call 911.
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