The lifestyle choices we make can have a huge impact on our health - especially our heart health. You may be considering some changes in your life. Here are some key things to consider:
A big issue for many people with heart disease is stress. Too much stress can harm your health and increase your risk of heart disease.
The relationship between heart disease and stress isn't completely understood, but some people with high levels of stress or prolonged stress may have higher blood cholesterol, increased blood pressure, or be more prone to developing atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries).
I led a fast-paced life with a demanding career and a lot of work stress. My doctors tell me stress was a major factor in my illness and I've had to find strategies to manage.
See our tips for managing stress, but if you are depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed by stress, talk to your doctor or other health care professional.
Why quit smoking? According to the American Heart Association, cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature deathin the US. Smoking combined with a family history of heart disease also seems to greatly increase the risk.
The link between second hand smoke and heart disease is also well known. About 37,000 to 40,000 people in the US die from heart and blood vessel disease caused by other people's smoke each year. Of these, about 35,000 nonsmokers die from coronary heart disease.
If you are a smoker, the time to quit is NOW. It's more than a lifestyle choice - it's a matter of life or death.
This is one of the biggies! If you're not getting regular exercise you are at greater risk. Make sure your lifestyle choices include exercise - and make it fun! Some options to choose from include walking, cycling, swimming, resistance training, yoga, tai chi, dance, or using an exercise ball. You might even want to set up your own home gym.
What about career? If you are still working, can you continue to work after you develop heart disease? Do you need to make a shift in your career? Are there ways you can control the stress in your work environment? There's a lot to consider.
Have you considered the benefits of meditation? This ancient practice can contribute to reduced stress and lower blood pressure. Combined with the practice of yoga or tai chi, mediation can bring measurable results.
Have you made changes in your lifestyle? Tell us about it!