Do I have the most common heart disease risk factors?
Smoking increases the risk for a whole host of health issues late in life, but it can wreak particular havoc on your heart, even if you have only smoked for a short period of time. Smoking immediately increases your heart attack risk, nicotine can also constrict blood vessels while the carbon monoxide in smoke can damage the inner lining of blood vessels, making them more susceptible to plaque buildup (atherosclerosis). Smoking also increases blood pressure, lowers tolerance to exercise and can increase the blood's tendency to clot which can all contribute to the acceleration of heart disease development.
Visit your doctor to get a prescription and then use your FSA to buy medications to quit smoking.
Lack of Diet/Exercise
To develop a healthy eating plan, you should avoid foods that contribute to poor cardiac health, including trans/saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium. When eating meat, the leanest cuts are desirable, while supplementing your diet with fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish, nuts, legumes and seeds can lessen your risk of heart issues.
Additionally, the American Heart Association suggests that adults should aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week to maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure, ease stress and improve your sleep cycle.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is largely tied to a person's diet and can lead to major health issues like heart attacks, stroke or aneurysms, as the long-term force of the blood against arterial walls is an underlying sign of narrowing arteries caused by blockages. Because of its contribution to the formation of heart disease, decreasing your blood pressure numbers with a healthy diet with less salt, quitting smoking and exercising regularly can greatly improve your state of health. If these methods are not effective, prescription blood pressure medications may be an option to discuss with a doctor.
Buy a blood pressure monitor with your FSA to keep track of your vitals.
Check out: QardioArm Blood Pressure Monitor
While drinking alcohol in moderation could have positive heart health effects, drinking excessively can actually contribute to the formation of heart disease by raising blood pressure levels and increasing the levels of triglycerides in the blood. These two factors can contribute greatly to the formation of plaque buildup in the arteries, so imbibing responsibly can make a huge difference for your long-term heart disease risk.
Last but not least, while additional research is needed to evaluate how stress relates to the development of heart disease, it's easy to see how chronic stress can contribute to heart disease. Stress can contribute to unhealthy behaviors like physical inactivity, overeating and smoking, which in turn will exacerbate cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
It's vital that if you contend with chronic stress, finding healthy outlets for this stress like exercise, indulging in a hobby, relaxation techniques (yoga, meditation, etc.) and maintaining a positive attitude can have positive long-term implications for your risk of heart disease.
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