Did you know that how you live may play a part in how long you will live? This is great news-you have some control over your own health and well-being. You may already have heart disease, but it's never too late to make changes in your lifestyle that will help your heart. And if you have had an "eye-opening" heart problem, you are likely more ready than ever to follow a healthier lifestyle.
So, now is a great time for you to consider improving your health. What changes should you make? Research shows that the following factors all play an important part in preventing and managing heart disease:
If you have or are at risk for cardiovascular disease, it’s also especially important to take precautions for weather-related emergencies, including extreme heat. Check out the SecondsCount Guide to How Extreme Weather Can Affect Your Heart.
Don't Give Up. Find Support.
Following a heart-healthy lifestyle is a life-long effort that starts now. But sometimes it may seem difficult to keep at it, even when you know it is worth the effort. So it is important to find support that encourages you to keep at your goal of a longer, healthier life.
Are there things we can do now to keep our children from developing heart disease later? Dr. David L. Brown discusses how today’s heart-healthy choices can impact your children’s health for decades to come.
Involving family members in your efforts can be an important source of support. Heart disease runs in families. Type 2 diabetes, which increases the risk of heart disease, also runs in families. Living a healthier lifestyle improves your own health, but also models good habits for your children and everyone in your family. This is a powerful way to encourage them to join you in lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes for your whole family. There are even fun ways you can support each other and stay on track by planning healthy family meals, engaging physical activities, and stress-reducing habits.
As a bonus to a heart-healthy lifestyle, your whole family may also:
- catch fewer colds and viruses (with regular, moderate exercise),
- maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity,
- prevent or delay the progression of diabetes,
- keep your mind sharp by possibly preventing dementia, and
- reduce the risk of these health problems for your children.
A Cautionary Note
You should always speak with your doctor before you change, start or stop any part of your healthcare plan, including diet and exercise. Reading health information online may be helpful, but it cannot replace the professional diagnosis and treatment you might need from a qualified healthcare provider.
Before making any lifestyle changes, your doctor should assess your current health status and inform you of any precautions you should take. Your medications may interact with certain foods or be affected by exercise. Your doctor can make you aware of these interactions and help you prevent them. Your doctor can also help you decide how to change your diet or exercise plans, or refer you to other health professionals (for example, a dietitian or exercise physiologist).
Of course, if at any time you think you may have a medical emergency, dial 9-1-1 immediately.
Keep in mind that sometimes lifestyle changes alone are not enough to overcome risk factors that are not changeable, such as genes, gender and age. Lifestyle changes are often used in addition to medications and other treatments recommended by your doctor.
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