Guide To Heart Disease Prevention

September 18, 2023

Heart disease describes a group of conditions where the arteries become narrowed or blocked, putting the patient at a higher risk of experiencing a fatal heart attack. Heart disease may also refer to conditions including coronary artery disease, congenital heart defects, cardiomyopathy, heart infections, valvular heart disease arrhythmias, and others. Many diseases that affect the heart are genetic, while others like heart infections and atherosclerosis develop and progress over time. The most common mechanism behind heart disease is when the arteries become damaged from high blood pressure, allowing cholesterol to penetrate and build up inside the artery. This substance that accumulates inside blood vessels is called plaque, and it makes the vessels stiff, narrow, and hard.

Some risk factors are beyond control, but several can be controlled. Heart disease is best prevented by the elimination of all risk factors. Get more details on this now.

Maintain A Healthy Weight

One of the most significant ways that an individual can proactively help prevent the development of heart disease is to maintain a healthy weight. Individuals who are overweight or obese have a considerably higher risk of developing heart disease than individuals of a healthy weight. Excess fat tissue can cause high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol to decrease, which increases the plaque-forming low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in their body. More blood must be circulated around the body in overweight or obese individuals to meet the oxygen and nutrient demand of all their body tissues. This increased circulation in patients is accomplished through an increase in blood pressure and pushing the heart to work faster and harder. Excess fat in the body causes an individual's heart to operate at maximum capacity just to pump blood around the body with everyday activity. Obesity is also the cause of diabetes, a condition where a patient's body is unable to regulate the amount of sugar in their blood properly. High blood sugar is damaging to the cardiovascular system and must be managed accordingly to prevent heart disease. Engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week and consuming a heart-healthy diet can help an individual maintain a healthy weight.

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Manage Blood Pressure

An individual who wants to prevent the development of heart disease will need to manage their blood pressure. Heart disease develops when plaque, a fatty substance made primarily out of LDL cholesterol, accumulates in an individual's blood vessels and causes them to become too narrow, damaging the vessels. The most prevalent cause of blood vessel lining damage is high blood pressure. Blood pressure refers to the force of the blood against the vessel walls as it moves through them. Damage to the lining occurs when blood pressure exceeds the ability of the blood vessels to expand to accommodate it. Keeping blood pressure low, therefore, can help prevent the development of heart disease.

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Keep Cholesterol In Check

An individual can help stop the formation of heart disease if they keep their cholesterol in check and have it monitored often. Cholesterol is a substance an individual's body needs to insulate nerves, build new cells, and make hormones. However, all the cholesterol the body requires is made by the liver. Any cholesterol consumed in food like eggs, milk, and meat can cause too much cholesterol in the body. The kind of cholesterol that is implicated in the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels is referred to as low-density lipoprotein. However, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol assists with removing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol from the blood. When an individual has too much low-density lipoprotein in their blood, plaque can accumulate on the endothelial lining of the blood vessels. When this occurs, the patient develops cardiovascular disease. Plaque buildup in the blood vessels causes their ability to expand to become compromised. The vessels become too narrow and stiff to allow a sufficient amount of blood to flow through them. This process is not able to occur when an affected individual does not consistently consume foods with LDL cholesterol.

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Get Regular Exercise

One of the best ways an individual can help prevent heart disease is to get regular exercise. Exercise can enhance the function of an individual's cardiovascular system and heart through many mechanisms. Regular exercise helps patients achieve and maintain healthy body weight. Regular exercise helps condition blood vessels and amplifies their ability to dilate when needed. Blood vessels that restrict blood flow due to an inability to dilate can cause heart disease. Regardless of a patient's diabetes status, exercise has proven to help an individual manage their blood sugar easier. Because regular exercise conditions the blood vessels to better accommodate blood that is exerting more force on them, the individual's blood pressure decreases and is easier to manage. It takes regular exercise over time to achieve these preventative effects. However, patients who already have an existing blockage in their coronary arteries that supply heart tissues can prevent further complications by exercising regularly. This response occurs because the heart muscle adapts to the oxygen starvation in its tissues. Exercise causes further deprivation of oxygen in such tissues, which triggers the adaptive mechanisms of the heart.

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Manage Stress

Finding healthy ways to avoid and manage stress is a critical factor in the prevention of heart disease. When an individual becomes stressed, their body releases a surge of hormones as a reaction to prepare the organs and tissues for fight or flight. These stress hormones increase their blood pressure and heart rate to push blood to the organs and muscles more efficiently. These hormones also pull glucose back into the bloodstream and cause it to stay in the bloodstream as a source of immediate and available energy for the organ and muscle cells. This fight or flight response works well for situations that warrant it. However, individuals who encounter stressful situations frequently or are chronically stressed become oversensitive to situations, causing the activation of the stress response when it wouldn't usually be activated. This oversensitivity causes them to have a stress response more often, leading to chronic high blood pressure and high blood sugar. An individual who learns how to cope with stress in a healthy way and avoids stressful situations can help prevent heart disease.

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