Even if you have a family history of heart disease, it isn’t inevitable. If you’re concerned about your heart health, you should know that you have control over five major risk factors for coronary artery disease.
While you can’t change risks such as age, gender, and family history, you can make changes in other key areas that will slash your heart disease risk. And it begins with partnering with an experienced primary care specialist. When you’re seeking the best internal medicine in Tarzana, California, look no further than Samuel I. Fink, MD, FACP.
It’s never too early or too late to make positive changes to control your risk factors, such as the following.
A poor diet not only lacks the nutrients you need to keep your heart healthy, such as antioxidants and heart healthy fats, but it also contains too much salt, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fat. All of these are unhealthy for your heart.
Because the foods you eat have a major influence on the health of your heart, it’s crucial to adopt a balanced, nutritious, and heart-healthy diet. Numerous research studies demonstrate a significant heart health benefit from a plant-based diet low in saturated fat, containing a variety of nutritious foods.
High cholesterol is one of the primary risk factors for heart disease. Fortunately, making healthier food choices also promotes lower cholesterol levels.
Over time, high cholesterol forms plaques that accumulate on artery walls, causing them to harden and narrow — a key characteristic of coronary artery disease.
Stiff, narrow blood vessels restrict blood flow and raise the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Saturated fat has the most potent impact on raising cholesterol. A high intake of saturated fat raises the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), a harmful type of cholesterol.
Hypertension damages blood vessels in the heart, brain, and other organs. It weakens your arteries, making them more susceptible to blockages caused by blood clots or plaque. Additionally, when the heart is forced to work harder to overcome the resistance of high blood pressure, it may expand and pump blood less efficiently to the body.
Know your blood pressure, and work with Dr. Fink to manage it if it’s elevated.
Smoking harms your heart health in multiple ways. It damages blood vessels and raises cholesterol. There’s no safe amount of smoking, so it’s best to do everything you can to quit. If you’ve tried and failed to quit in the past, talk to Dr. Fink about tools that can help, such as smoking cessation medication.
Carrying extra weight isn't just an aesthetic concern. Overweight is classified as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25, while obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 and above. Having a high BMI raises your risk for various chronic diseases, including heart disease.
The good news is that making positive changes to adopt a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a nutritious diet and getting plenty of exercise, can help you shed excess pounds.
You have the power to combat heart disease. The first step is to work closely with a health care provider. There’s no substitute for expert guidance, and we’re here to provide the support you need along the way.
For a heart health evaluation, schedule a visit with Dr. Fink today by calling the office or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to helping you achieve optimal wellness.