Atherosclerosis is a common cardiovascular condition that affects individuals who are middle-aged and older. This condition is a hardening and narrowing of arteries due to a build-up of cholesterols, fats, and other substances on the inside of arterial walls. Atherosclerosis can reduce blood flow to the patient's heart and brain and cause a number of different serious health complications, including heart attacks, strokes, and aneurysms. Luckily, there are many simple lifestyle tips individuals can follow to prevent atherosclerosis from developing in the first place. Get to know these prevention tips now.
Get Frequent Medical Check-Ups
Atherosclerosis buildup in the arteries usually occurs over long periods. Many individuals who experience complications due to atherosclerosis could have prevented these side effects through early identification of the disease. Simple non-invasive screenings involving measuring blood pressure and doctors listening for foreign sounds in the patient's heartbeat can identify atherosclerosis before serious issues present themselves. Individuals forty years old or older should receive a physical check-up by a doctor at least once a year to identify any possible symptoms of atherosclerosis.
One of the easiest and most effective ways for middle-aged individuals to prevent atherosclerosis is to get regular physical activity. Prime examples include running (both outside and on treadmills), lifting weights, and just generally visiting the gym. However, it's important to note even non-strenuous forms of exercise such as yoga, tai chi, or walking can stimulate healthy blood flow, which prevents the accretion of fat or cholesterol on arterial tissues. According to the American National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, individuals who are forty years old or older should exercise at least three times a week for half an hour to keep their hearts healthy.
Don't Drink An Excessive Amount Of Alcohol
The relationship between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease is a frequent subject of clinical studies. Light alcohol consumption of no more than two alcoholic drinks a day has been shown to have little-to-no effect on the development of most cardiovascular diseases. In fact, a 1998 study found light-to-moderate alcohol consumption can even slow or reverse the effects of atherosclerosis in some individuals. Heavy alcohol consumption including binge drinking, on the other hand, has been found to have a positive correlation with the development of atherosclerosis. Thus, individuals looking to mitigate their risk of developing atherosclerosis should avoid excessive alcohol consumption and absolutely avoid binge drinking.
Smoking is one of the worst overall health decisions an individual can make. Smokers run a much higher risk of developing numerous health complications including cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis. Smoking can damage blood vessels and constrict arteries, significantly increasing an individual's chances of being diagnosed with atherosclerosis or complicating the symptoms of atherosclerosis further. Even exposure to secondhand smoke has been found to lead to a slight increase in rates of atherosclerosis. Thus, preventing atherosclerosis, along with numerous other health issues, is significantly linked to individuals not smoking in the first place, or at least quitting if they've already been smoking.
Eat A Healthy Diet
Above all other atherosclerosis prevention tips, maintaining a healthy diet is perhaps the most important. Atherosclerosis is a buildup of fats and cholesterol in the arteries; naturally, then, a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol will increase an individual's chances of developing atherosclerosis. To decrease this risk, then, doctors recommend eating a diet composed mostly of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean white meats. Individuals should avoid consuming sodium, added sugars, and refined grains should whenever possible.
Lose Excess Weight
Fat that forms around the waistline can weaken the lining of the arteries. This, in turn, makes the arteries more vulnerable to plaque buildup and blockages. Therefore, individuals who are overweight or obese, especially if they carry theirr weight around the waist or stomach, should consider making an effort to lose excess weight to prevent health issues such as atherosclerosis. Some experts suggests participating in vigorous aerobic exercise at least thirty minutes three times per week. Another way to help control weight and lower the amount of fat in one's diet is to choose foods derived from plants rather than animal products. Individuals who don't want to give up meat altogether can focus on eating lean meats like baked skinless chicken or fish.
Take Medications To Reduce Risk
There are several medications doctors may recommend to help certain patients prevent atherosclerosis. Beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can help lower blood pressure as well as protect the arteries around a patient's heart in other ways. Antiplatelet medications prevent the blood from forming clots that may create blockages in the arteries. Additionally,patients may take medication to treat other illnesses that can lead to atherosclerosis, such as diabetes. If a doctor has asked a patient to take medications to reduce their risk of atherosclerosis, the patient must take these medications exactly as prescribed. They must not increase or decrease the dose without talking to their doctor.
Monitor And Reduce Blood Pressure And Cholesterol
When an individual's blood pressure is too high, blood flows through the arteries with more pressure than their arteries are designed to handle. This can lead to damaged areas where it is easier for plaques to form and create blockages. Cholesterol is a high-fat substance that sticks to the walls of the arteries. When too much cholesterol builds up in an artery, it can block blood flow and lead to conditions such as heart attack and stroke, as wel las atherosclerosis. Many medications are able to help patients regulate their blood pressure and cholesterol.
Patients can also make lifestyle changes to deal with their blood pressure and cholesterol like getting regular exercise and eating healthy, low-fat foods such as grains, fruits, and vegetables. Thus, these elements are clearly even more important than initially discussed when it comes to preventing conditions such as atherosclerosis. Of course, it is important for individuals, particularly those who have had issues with their cholesterol or blood pressure in the past, to closely monitor their levels. Doctors will likely bring this up with their patients when necessary, but patients may also bring it up themselves if they are concerned.