8 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy
by Dr. José Mayorga, SOS Chief Medical Officer
What causes heart disease?
Heart disease affects the blood vessels and cardiovascular system. Numerous problems can result from this, many of which are related to a process called atherosclerosis, a condition that develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can block blood flow or break off and potentially cause a heart attack or stroke.
But it doesn’t end there. Heart disease can take many other forms as well:
- Heart failure or congestive heart failure, which means that the heart is still working, but it isn’t pumping blood as well as it should, or getting enough oxygen.
- Arrhythmia or an abnormal rhythm of the heart, which means the heart is either beating too fast, too slow or irregularly. This can affect how well the heart is functioning and whether or not the heart is able to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
- Heart valve problems can lead to the heart not opening enough to allow proper blood flow. Sometimes the heart valves don’t close and blood leaks through, or the valve leaflets bulge or prolapse into the upper chamber, causing blood to flow backward through them.
How can I prevent it?
Many things can put you at risk for these problems – ones you can control, and others that you can’t. But the key takeaway is that with the right information, education and care, heart disease can be treated, prevented and even ended.
Studies show that healthy choices have resulted in fewer people dying from heart disease. Here are a few lifestyle changes you should make:
- Stop smoking or better yet, don’t start
- Manage your blood sugar
- Get your blood pressure under control
- Lower your cholesterol
- Know your family history
- Stay active
- Lose weight
- Eat healthy