As the leading cause of death in the United States, heart disease isn’t a risk you should take lightly. There are multiple factors that can contribute to it, including some within and some outside of your control. While you can’t control your genetic risk for heart disease, you can find out about your personal risk level and take measures to work against it.
Board-certified internist Sohan Varma, MD, of Washington Internal Medicine in Chantilly, California, is well aware of the damage that various forms of heart disease can do to your cardiovascular system. Heart disease isn’t just one condition but rather a group of conditions affecting your blood vessels and heart muscles. Many of them can lead to life-threatening events like a heart attack or are life-threatening themselves.
Dr. Varma and our team welcome you to visit Washington Internal Medicine for a cardiovascular assessment, which gives you a summary of your risk for heart disease. Using the results of specific tests like electrocardiogram (ECG), cardiac imaging, and stress testing, you can get an accurate idea of the state of your cardiovascular system and start taking the necessary steps to lower your heart disease risk.
A few suggestions our team might have for you include:
Stop smoking right away
It’s right on the label of every pack of cigarettes and tobacco products: Smoking is not good for your health. There are many chronic and deadly conditions that can come from years of smoking and tobacco use, including several forms of heart disease.
When you smoke, the oxygen levels in your blood get lower. This increases both your heart rate and blood pressure as your cardiovascular system works to supply your brain and other organs with vital oxygenation. When you smoke for years or even decades, this overworking of your heart and blood vessels causes significant damage.
The good news? You don’t have to wait very long to experience the heart benefits of smoking cessation. In fact, as little as a day after you quit smoking or using tobacco, your heart disease risk starts to fall. One year later, your heart disease risk is about half of what it was when you smoked.
Any physician who values your health will tell you that exercise is a must if you want to be healthy. One of its major benefits is lowering your risk for heart disease. For about 30-60 minutes a day, you should engage in some form of exercise to get your heart pumping.
A sedentary lifestyle might feel like it comes naturally to you, especially if you’re generally very busy and don’t have much free time. However, it’s important to note that inactivity is among the top five heart disease risk factors.
Even moderate daily exercise reduces the risk of conditions that strain your heart, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Control your diet
Eating what you want when you want might be sustainable for a little while, but you should try and limit some of the ingredients that are often in indulgent foods or foods that just aren’t great for your heart. Our team advises you to limit ingredients like salt, sugar, processed carbohydrates, and saturated fat while focusing more on whole foods like:
- Lean meat and fish
- Whole grains
- Healthier fats, like avocados or olive oil
It can be challenging to make such a major change to your diet, especially if you’ve never thought much about your eating habits in the past.
If you need a little extra help in restructuring your diet to be more heart-healthy or help with managing your weight and any weight-related conditions that could lead to heart disease, Dr. Varma and the team at Washington Internal Medicine offer personalized medical weight management programs to assist you.
If you have concerns about heart disease or would like to come in for a cardiovascular assessment, schedule a visit by phone or online with us at Washington Internal Medicine right away.