Have you ever gotten into your car to discover the check engine light is on? While it can be a scary sign that something is wrong with your vehicle, it’s a warning that you need to get your car checked out as soon as you get a chance. While your body doesn’t obviously come with a check engine light, there are warnings your body will send you if you’re paying attention. Your heart is just one of the many essential parts of your body to keep healthy and is central to overall good health. Did you know your heart will beat about 115,000 times each day and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood? Health problems, even minor ones, can interfere and cast a shadow on your life, that’s why it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep your heart strong. Here are some tips from the United States Department of Health and Human Services to consider when it comes to heart health. 

Heart Disease 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. When people talk about heart disease, they are usually talking about coronary heart disease (CHD). It’s also called coronary artery disease (CAD). This is the most common type of heart disease.

When someone has CHD, the coronary arteries (tubes) that take blood to the heart are narrow or blocked. This happens when cholesterol and fatty material, called plaque, build up inside the arteries.

Plaque is caused by:

  • Too much fat and cholesterol in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Too much sugar in the blood (diabetes)
  • When plaque blocks an artery, it’s hard for blood to flow to the heart. A blocked artery can cause chest pain or a heart attack

Risk Factors 

Everyone is at risk for heart disease. But you are at higher risk for heart disease if you:

  • Have high cholesterol or high blood pressure 
  • Smoke
  • Are overweight or obese 
  • Don’t get enough physical activity
  • Don’t eat a healthy diet 
  • Your age and family history also affect your risk for heart disease. Your risk is higher if: 
  • You are a woman over age 55
  • You are a man over age 45
  • Your father or brother had heart disease before age 55
  • Your mother or sister had heart disease before age 65

Lower your Risk 

  • Eat healthy
  • Get active
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Manage stress

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can not only decrease your risk of many diseases but prevent them in the first place!  The physicians and staff at Bay Area Family Physicians appreciate the opportunity to provide your medical services. We want to strengthen communication between our office and you, our patients. As specialists in Family Medicine, we focus on primary care needs for patients of all ages – from newborns to the elderly.