Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.
Po-Chang Hsu, M.D.
Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University. Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel.
June 22, 2021
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States, killing around 610,000 people per year. As we age, one of the pressing questions becomes, “how can I prevent heart disease?”
Read on to learn more about heart disease, the signs and symptoms, treatment, and how to prevent heart disease.
First, let’s take a closer look at heart disease and its symptoms. Heart disease is not one condition but rather a blanket term for a series of conditions that affect the heart. These include:
The symptoms of heart disease are entirely dependent upon which of these diseases you have. Below we will further explain the signs for each particular condition.
Congenital heart defects are some kind of problem with the structure of the heart. They are present at birth and may cause the following:
Atherosclerosis is a hardening of the arteries due to the buildup of fatty plaque. It can cause a stroke, heart attack, or angina. These can present as the following symptoms:
Arrhythmias are disruptions in regular heart rhythm. This can be felt as:
Also called cardiomyopathy, a diseased heart muscle may cause:
Endocarditis or heart infection can cause the following:
Heart disease is best treated if caught early. If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor. However, if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting, seek emergency medical attention.
While some heart diseases cannot be prevented (such as congenital heart defects), there are things you can do to reduce your risk of others significantly. As with many chronic illnesses, the best offense is a good defense. There are lifestyle factors you can adjust to prevent heart disease. These include:
Dietary adjustment can help prevent heart disease. In general, follow a diet that is low in saturated fat and salt while eating plenty of vegetables, fruit, and healthy grains. Among the options included in this diet are certain foods that, if eaten regularly, can keep the heart healthy. These include the following.
For decades fiber-rich oatmeal has been lauded for its nutritional properties. Oats cut down on cholesterol absorption and contribute to gut health while keeping blood sugar levels stable. These same properties make oatmeal an excellent choice for satiety. Those interested in promoting heart health couldn’t do better than starting each morning with a bowl of oatmeal.
While most vegetables are an excellent option for a heart-healthy diet, cruciferous vegetables hold a high place. In a 2020 study, Australian scientists found that these veggies, including cabbage, are linked to a decline in blood vessel diseases. Brussel sprouts are high in flavonoids and fiber and low in calories, allowing for large helpings with a low caloric load.
The American Heart Association recommends fish (especially salmon, high in omega-3 fatty oils) twice a week to decrease heart disease risk. The AARP adds, “it may not be just the omega-3s that are good for you; a 2018 study found that an ingredient in fish and other seafood called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) may also reduce hypertension-related symptoms.”
All legumes are high in plant-based protein and fiber, making them an excellent addition to a heart-healthy diet. Replacing even some meat-based dishes with legumes will keep the protein and boost fiber to block cholesterol absorption.
A staple of the Mediterranean diet, olives and olive oil are heart-healthy fats. Olive oil can replace saturated fats such as butter or the more recently popular coconut oil. It boosts the production of good cholesterol and also helps the body fight off diabetes and strokes.
While some foods are true powerhouses in preventing heart disease, conversely, you want to avoid some foods to promote heart health. These include:
These foods should preferably be avoided altogether, but follow the guidelines for each if you must have them.
Depending on the type and severity of the heart disease, there are several treatment options. Anything from lifestyle changes, prescription medication, or surgery may be recommended.
The lifestyle changes recommended for preventing heart disease are the same ones recommended for treating heart disease. Your doctor may recommend an exercise plan or a special diet to head off further damage.
For the most successful treatment, start preventative treatment early and catch any disease in its early stages by visiting your doctor right away if you notice any signs or symptoms of heart disease.
If you want to discuss with a doctor about how you can prevent heart disease, our sister site PlushCare is the perfect resource. With PlushCare’s heart disease treatment service, you can meet with a doctor virtually and easily manage your heart condition.
It’s fast and straightforward to make an appointment, and you can conveniently meet with a top PlushCare doctor online. Doctors provide ongoing medical care, including necessary medications and prescription refills.
Click here to make an appointment with an online doctor.
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