In the United States heart disease is responsible for about 600,000 deaths every year, and almost seven percent of African-Americans have the disease. But simply making a few small changes to your diet and lifestyle could significantly lower your risk of developing it.
Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is a blanket term that includes a group of diseases that harm your heart. Diseases of the blood vessels, like coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); heart infections; and heart defects you're born with (congenital heart defects) are all under this umbrella. Here are a few things you can do to stay in the clear:
Get a cholesterol test: Having high cholesterol can lead to hardened arteries, heart disease, and a greater risk of a heart attack. To keep cholesterol levels under control, the American Heart Association suggests adults over the age of 20 be tested every five years.
Limit your meat intake: For a heart-healthy diet, try to avoid eating more than six ounces of cooked lean meat a day. Opting for chicken over steak is not a bad idea either; red meat is higher in saturated fat and cholesterol. Remember, too, that smoked meats are full of salt which will only raise your blood-pressure.
Get your exercise: At least two hours and 30 minutes a week will help keep heart disease at bay. But don’t forget to keep your heart pumping for the whole time, think fast-paced walk or jog instead of a leisurely stroll.
Read Food Labels: If the food you choose is high in calories, sodium or saturated fat, put it back on the shelf. Pay special attention to the calories per serving. It may take a little math but it’s important to compare nutrients per serving to the actual serving size to get the facts.
Control your diabetes: Almost 65 percent of people that have diabetes die from a cardiovascular issue. This is why it’s important to keep your diabetes in check. If you are diabetic you should check your blood sugar regularly and try to keep your fasting blood-sugar level below 110 mg/dL.
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