Top 12 Ways to Reduce Heart Disease

cardiology Dec 08, 2022
heart disease prevention

Heart Disease Prevention

We all know that heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that 17.9 million deaths occur each year due to cardiovascular diseases. In the United States alone, about 650,000 deaths per year are from heart disease. Although, this number is going down, it's still quite high. 

Heart disease includes heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and peripheral artery disease. 

We have had a 70% reduction in cardiovascular mortality (death) since 1968 and an additional 10% reduction in last 10 years! This is fantastic, but we have a ways to go!


Causes of Heart Disease

There are a multitude of factors and causes of heart disease. Genetics and lifestyle combine together to cause heart disease. Several lifestyle factors can increase the risk of heart disease, including tobacco use, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, genetic factors, and high blood pressure. Therefore, adopting a healthy lifestyle is an important step in reducing the risk of heart disease. 

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is always the first step and we emphasize this extensively. 

The main dirver of atherosclerosis is elevated Apolipoprotein B, or ApoB for short. ApoB is a measure of LDL particles. Hence, LDL cholesterol or LDL particle cause atherosclerosis. Without ApoB, there would be no atherosclerosis. We try to emphasize this extensively.

We could completely eliminate atherosclerotic heart disease if we lowered ApoB to physiologic, or very low levels.


Reducing Risk of Heart Disease

Reducing the risk of heart disease is important in order to improve overall health, longevity, and quality of life. My patients are always asking me how to reduce the risk of serious heart disease. There are many ways to reduce heart disease. I wish I could catch my patients earlier in their journey so that they would not end up with heart disease. Most of my patients already have heart disease.

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There are several steps that you can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve your overall heart health. Here are the top 12 ways to prevent heart disease:


Top 12 Ways to Reduce Heart Disease

  1. Eat a healthy diet: A diet high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Avoiding foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol can also help to prevent heart disease.

  2. Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduce stress, improve sleep, and improve overall heart health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Even walking for 15 minutes a few days per week at a less than 6mph place lowers cardiovascular mortality by 45%. If you did it every day, you'd lower mortality by 50%. There is a dose response. 

  3. Quit smoking: Smoking is the worst risk factor for heart disease, as it damages the lining of the arteries and increases the risk of blood clots. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and stroke by 20 times your normal risk. 

  4. Maintain a healthy weight: Try to get as close to your ideal body weight as possible. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of heart disease. Maintaining a healthy weight through a combination of diet, exercise, and sometimes medications can lower the risk of heart disease.

  5. Manage stress: Chronic stress can increase the risk of heart disease, so it is important to find ways to manage stress, such as through meditation, yoga, or exercise. Stress increases cortisol levels, which increase fat storage, salt retention and causes other metabolic derangements. 

  6. Get enough sleep: Insufficient sleep has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to help lower the risk of heart disease. If you have sleep apnea, her treated. Severe sleep apnea increases cardiovascular mortality by 48%.

  7. Lower blood pressure: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, so it is important to monitor blood pressure and work with a physician to lower your blood pressure to acceptable levels. 

  8. Control diabetes: People with diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease. In fact, studies have shown that diabetes is equivalent to having coronary artery disease. If you have diabetes, you have plaques in your arteries. Monitoring blood sugar levels and following a healthy lifestyle can help to lower the risk of heart disease in people with diabetes. Take your medications if you are in medications. 

  9. Get regular medical check-ups: Regular medical check-ups can help to identify potential risk factors for heart disease and allow for early intervention to prevent or manage your risks. You don't want to risk your life. It's not worth it. Get checked. 

  10. Limit alcohol consumption: Heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Alcohol is cardiotoxic. Limiting alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men can help to lower the risk of heart disease. If you want optimal health, avoid alcohol completely. 

  11. Get your cholesterol checked: Knowing your cholesterol level and especially LDL is the best predictor of cardiovascular disease. There's no better predictor of heart disease than your LDL. 
  12. Treat your underlying medical conditions: Lower cholesterol , control diabetes, or lower blood pressure, it is important to take them as directed to help lower the risk of heart disease.

In addition to lifestyle changes, there are also a multitude medications that can be used to reduce the risk of heart disease. These include blood pressure-lowering medications, cholesterol-lowering medications (such as statins), blood sugar lowering medications, and antiplatelet medications (such as aspirin). Obviously, discuss this with your physician if you have some of these conditions. 


Research and Science of Heart Disease Prevention

Multiple studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of these therapies in reducing the risk of heart disease. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, published in the Lancet, found that blood pressure-lowering medications were associated with a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes.

The North Karelia Finland study demonstrated that reducing saturated fat intake from 24% of total calories to about 10% of total calories conferred a 84% reduction in cardiovascular mortality. 

Another study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the use of statins in individuals with elevated cholesterol levels was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events. I've done a number of videos on primary and secondary prevention with statins on my social media profiles. 


Healthy Lifestyle to Prevent Heart Disease

The most important changes will be to adopt a healthy lifestyle and use medications as needed to reduce the risk of heart disease. Do all of the above 12 changes and that will definitely reduce your cardiovascular mortality. 

By following these 12 tips, you can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall heart health. Talk to your doctor or cardiologist to develop a promised plan to prevent or manage heart disease.

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