Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Kittery, ME
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), colloquially known as heart disease, is an umbrella term for diseases affecting the heart and associated blood vessels. These include blood vessel diseases such as coronary artery disease as well as congenital heart defects (conditions you’re born with). Heart diseases typically involve blood vessels that become too narrow or blocked—which can lead to heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke—while conditions affecting the heart’s muscle, valves rhythm (arrhythmias) are also included under the umbrella term of cardiovascular disease.
As the #1 leading cause of death globally, accounting for 375,000 deaths in the U.S. annually, a common question many people ask is, can you prevent heart disease? Although genetics play a role in your cardiovascular disease development risk, a growing amount of research points to the fact that lifestyle choices and behaviors uncontrolled by your genetics can often weigh more heavily on CVD development. For those with a family history of CVD, or for those whose lifestyle choices do not align with healthy behavior, this becomes a pertinent detail to stop CVD in its track.
In fact, heart disease is regularly related to factors such as high blood pressure and other conditions related to the heart’s function (such as diabetes, obesity and alcoholism), conditions that often manifest from poor dietary choices combined with low physical activity levels. The question of whether one can prevent heart disease, then, often comes down to whether a person is willing to make the lifestyle choices necessary to lower the heart’s chance of developing problems.
If you are interested in modifying your lifestyle to lower your CVD risk, schedule a consultation with a healthcare provider in Kittery that specializes in cardiovascular disease prevention, call (207) 536-9661 or contact Dr. Nicole Schertell online.
Preventing Heart Disease: Lifestyle is Key
Studies show that avoiding common cardiovascular disease risk factors can result in the prevention of 90% cases of heart disease. Avoiding heart disease can be accomplished largely through making healthy lifestyle choices that support sustained heart health, such as:
- Quitting smoking: Smoking or using tobacco of any kind puts you at a significantly higher risk of developing heart disease. In fact, it’s one of the highest risk factors of heart disease. Chemicals found in tobacco damage your heart and associated blood vessels, causing atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup), which can ultimately lead to a heart attack.
- Exercising: A common question about heart health, can exercise prevent heart disease? Put simply, it can help. When combined with other lifestyle measures, physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, reducing your chances of developing other conditions that could put strain on your heart (such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes). The American Heart Association recommends to get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week to support overall cardiovascular health. Alternatively, they recommend 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity 3 days per week and moderate-to-high intensity muscle-strengthening at least 2 days per week. To lower blood pressure and cholesterol, they recommend an average 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3-4 times per week.
- Dieting: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and high in fiber, can help protect your heart. Diets such as the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet are often recommended. Avoiding salts and sugars, as well as limiting certain fats you eat (such as saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fat), and eliminating processed foods, can help sustain heart health. Alcohol consumption, furthermore, should be limited.
- Adding supplements: While not a cure-all for heart problems, vitamins and supplements (such as those that address potential cardiovascular risk factors like maintaining healthy cholesterol levels) can help support cardiovascular health. Omega-3 fish oil, plant sterols and multivitamins, for instance, are generally recommended. It is always important to only take supplements recommended by your healthcare provider to ensure their efficacy.
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight, especially when the extra weight you carry is around the waist, increases your chance of heart disease. A body mass index (BMI) score over 25 is generally associated with higher cholesterol, higher blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Managing your weight with appropriate diet and physical activity, as mentioned above, can reduce your risk of CVD.
- Getting adequate sleep: Sleep deprivation has adverse health effects, putting you at a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack and depression. Achieving a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night and adhering to a regular sleep schedule can help you achieve a healthier state. The amount of sleep needed per person may differ according to age and health state.
- Managing stress: Stress hormones create inflammation, increase blood pressure and make your heart pump faster. Prolonged stress can increase your risk of hypertension, stroke and heart attack. Finding healthy coping mechanisms for stress management—such as physical activity, relaxation exercises or meditation—can improve your heart health.
It is important to monitor your overall health with annual health checkups. If you’re particularly worried about your heart health—such as if you are overweight or have a family history of CVD—regular health screenings (such as those that check for diabetes and inspect your blood pressure and cholesterol levels) can ensure your heart’s health is addressed before a potential heart condition can worsen. A healthcare provider in Kittery that specializes in heart disease prevention can help. Call (207) 536-9661 or contact Dr. Nicole Schertell online.
Vibrant Health Naturopathic Medical Center
Address501 Islington St
Portsmouth, NH 03801
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
Thu: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm