Living a longer, healthier life is something we all hope to accomplish. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, but luckily there are achievable, evidenced-based actions that you can take to reduce your odds of dying from a cardiovascular-related condition.
When I meet with my patients, we often discuss lifestyle modifications anyone can make to improve their cardiovascular health. You may be familiar with some of the suggestions I’ve detailed below, but whether it’s new information or a subtle reminder, the new year is the perfect time to work them into your daily life. You get benefits from each of these things alone, but you get extra health boosts from doing them all! I am doing my best to live by this guidance too.
This health advice has remained true for many years, because when followed, it is effective. It will also probably improve your quality of life. For example, I had a patient who started with just increasing fruits and vegetables in his diet. He and his wife liked these changes so much they started following the Mediterranean diet for all of their meals. They started losing weight and having more energy, so they added a daily walk to their routine, first for 10 minutes a day, but now they are doing about 40 minutes a day. He has lost 20 pounds since I started seeing him five months ago, and we’ve been able to reduce his blood pressure medications. He says he hasn’t felt this good in 20 years.
I have another patient who had a heart attack at a young age. She recognized her chest pain and nausea could be a sign of a heart attack so came to the emergency room immediately and was able to get a catheterization quickly once she got here. She saw her heart attack as a wakeup call, and she made some big changes to her life. She quit smoking, follows the Mediterranean diet, and exercises daily. Her lifestyle changes made her feel better than she has in a long time. These changes can help people not only live longer, but more importantly, live better. Little changes can make a big difference. Maybe pick one of these suggestions and see if you can build on it, too?