For many people, keeping your heart and arteries as healthy as possible is a two-part process involving prevention and treatment. Whether you have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or wish to minimize your risk factors, the cardiologists at Florida Medical Clinic can work with you to identify the best choices for you among a range of treatment and prevention options.
What is Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular disease is a term used for many different types of heart and vascular related illnesses. The most common cardiovascular problem is atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a condition when a substance known as plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart and other parts of your body.
Over time, this plaque builds up, narrowing arteries. If a blood clot occurs, it can block a narrowed artery and can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Other types of cardiovascular diseases include:
- Arrhythmia – This condition refers to any change in the normal sequence of the heartbeat. It involves the electrical impulses of the heart—not the arteries or blockages.
- Heart Failure – While a serious condition, heart failure does not mean that the heart is no longer working. Heart failure is when the heart’s ability to pump is weaker than normal.
- Congenital Heart Defects – Different than other types of heart conditions, congenital heart defects are present at birth. These defects are not a disease, but rather an abnormality that occurs while a fetus is developing.
- Cardiomyopathy – A progressive disease that causes the heart to become abnormally enlarged, thickened, and/or stiffened, cardiomyopathy (also known as heart muscle disease) limits the heart muscle’s ability to pump blood effectively.
What are the risk factors for Cardiovascular Disease?
The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the more risk factors you can eliminate or reduce, the better your chances of preventing and controlling cardiovascular disease.
There are several risk factors for heart diseases including:
- tobacco use
- physical inactivity
- excessive alcohol consumption
- unhealthy diet
- family history of cardiovascular disease
- raised blood pressure (hypertension)
- raised blood sugar (diabetes mellitus)
- raised blood cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
- psychosocial factors
- poverty and low educational status
- exposure to air pollution
How to Keep Heart Healthy
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women.
There are steps you can take to reduce your odds of developing cardiovascular disease.
Improve Your Diet
Eat a low fat, high-fiber diet including whole grains and fruit and vegetables. If you find it difficult to eat healthy, ask your cardiologist for help in finding the right help you need.
Smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. So, if you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which causes high blood pressure. If you do drink, keep your limit to 1 to 2 drinks per day.
Know Your Blood Pressure Numbers
Lower blood pressures, if elevated. Know your blood pressure numbers and take steps necessary to lower your blood pressure. If your doctor has prescribed medication to help lower your blood pressure, make sure that you take your medicine as directed by your doctor.
Exercise To Lower Body Fat
Decrease your body fat if you are overweight or obese. Increase daily activity to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise per day at least five times per week. Sneak in exercise during your daily routines to meet that 30 minute goal. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Start parking your car further away from your destination and walk the few extra steps to get where you are going. Pay attention to your activity during the day and make adjustments to add exercise into your daily routine.
Reduce Your Sugar Consumption
Reduce your sugar consumption. If you are diabetic, know your numbers and follow the prescribed recommendations from your doctor. Start reading food labels at track the number of grams of sugar you are eating in a day. You may be surprised by the amount of sugar you are consuming in a day.
Lower Your Stress Level
Identify what causes stress in your life and finds ways to reduce it. If you work in a high stress career, take time when you are away from work to relax. Find a hobby or join a club that will be fun for you and help you take your mind off of your job. Be creative in finding ways to reduce your stress.
Florida Medical Clinic Cardiology/HeartCare
The Florida Medical Clinic Cardiology/HeartCare department provides cardiovascular prevention and screening for patients concerned about cardiovascular disease. If you have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, our cardiologists will work with you to improve your heart health.