Each year in the United States, about 647,000 die from heart disease and roughly 795,000 people have a stroke.* You can help prevent heart disease and stroke by living a healthier lifestyle. By making healthier choices you can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels normal and lower your risk for heart disease. The CDC estimates that up to 80% of strokes could be prevented through healthy lifestyle changes and working with your healthcare team to control conditions that raise your risk for stroke.
What are some ways to lower my risk of heart disease and stroke?
- Nutrition: Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and limit processed foods and meats. Also limiting sweetened drinks and alcohol can help lower your blood sugar level and blood pressure.
- Maintain A Healthy Weight: People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Carrying extra weight can put extra stress on the heart and blood vessels.
- Exercise: Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lowers your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels. Adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intense exercise per week.
- Quit Smoking: Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you currently smoke, work with a doctor or pharmacist to help create a plan to quit.
- Take Your Medications as Directed: If you take medications to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes: follow the instructions carefully and ask your pharmacist about any changes in energy levels or unexplained weight gains. Many blood pressure medications can deplete nutrients needed for heart health. (click here for a previous post explaining this)
- Consider the Functional Medicine Approach: If you’re doing all the right things and not seeing the results you’d like, maybe it’s time for a different approach.
I am a firm believer in the functional medicine approach to health (click here for a previous post explaining this), and this means looking for other potential causes for a condition beyond the first identified. Maybe a hormone imbalance is affecting your blood vessels, and you could benefit from a compounded prescription addressing your unique needs. Maybe you’re missing some key nutrients due to drug-induced nutrient depletion.
I can help you address these causes so you can benefit from lasting solutions, not just symptom suppression. Let’s work together to treat any medical conditions that lead to heart disease or stroke. I recommend discussing your treatment and medications regularly; bring a list of questions to your doctor’s appointments or the next time you pick up your prescriptions.
*Information provided by cdc.gov