More than 600,000 Americans are expected to succumb this year to heart disease, the leading cause of mortality in the United States and across the globe. The human costs of cardiovascular ailments can be incalculable, levying crushing tolls on personal finances, the healthcare system, and victims and their loved ones.

While cardiovascular disease remains highly prevalent, it still can be a preventable affliction, too often linked to a lifetime of ill-advised personal choices. And while there are no guarantees in affairs of the heart, those who seize control of their health and lifestyle decisions can significantly improve their odds of avoiding becoming just another statistic.

You can do your part to become heart-healthy, improving your overall well-being in the process, by making the following recommendations a part of your day-to-day routine.

Reduce Stress

Maintaining emotions can be tricky at times, but practicing good relaxation skills could potentially save your life. Stress is not only a nuisance to our daily routines, but it also raises the risk of experiencing the ravages of heart disease and stroke. When we’re feeling tense, our bodies produce more hormones that shouldn’t normally be constantly circulating through the bloodstream at prolonged high levels. A lifetime of repeated exposure to these hormones increases dangerous inflammation in our blood vessels, potentially leading to increased unstable cholesterol plaque formation and higher risk of blood clotting, in addition to raising blood pressure, all of which cause heart attack and stroke. Thankfully, lowering levels of stress isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Simple practices, such as yoga or meditation, are known to reduce anxiety. And reserving some time before bed to wind down works just as well too. The main objective is to simply enjoy more calm moments than edgy ones throughout your day.

Image via

Stay Active

Excess weight puts a lot of unnecessary strain on the heart, with inactivity only worsening the problem. A sedentary lifestyle may in fact be riskier than even smoking! If we want our muscles to work efficiently, keeping them moving is the key to long-term success. Any type of movement is beneficial, even if that means beginning with short walks and building your endurance up to more strenuous exercise. For optimum results, 10,000 steps per day is recommended. However, there’s no need to push to extremes right off the bat. Begin with realistic goals and try to increase them by 1,000 steps a week in order to reach your targets. You will be surprised by how much effortless activity one can get through the course of a day without even trying. Making uncomplicated tweaks, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, can assist with achieving the prescribed degree of movement for a strong and healthy heart.

Improve Your Diet

It’s true – we are what we eat. So that means it’s absolutely essential to regularly fuel our bodies with heart-healthy vegetables, fruits, grains and healthy lean proteins. Fatty fish, such as salmon and albacore tuna, can be a particularly valuable source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and protein, which keeps us from food cravings later in the day. Conversely, foods that are high in saturated fats, and refined sugars and carbohydrates, can lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries and inflammation in the blood vessels. And plaque buildup leads to heart-related issues that should be avoided as early as possible in life. Luckily, our society is slowly beginning to shift to a healthier overall mindset, and finding low cholesterol alternatives is far easier than it was a generation ago.

Get Tested – Be PROACTIVE

Cardiovascular disease for many patients is a silent killer. Thirty to forty percent of people experiencing their first heart attack will have no warning symptoms, and the first indication unfortunately will be sudden death.  However, Dr. Lee Marcus and his staff stay one step ahead in the battle for heart health, taking an aggressive preventive approach to cardiovascular disease today, before symptoms develop that may blossom into deadly medical problems tomorrow. Using cutting-edge technology, like an Electron Beam CT scan, Dr. Marcus can identify calcified plaque on the coronary artery walls at the its earliest stages. Those scans, coupled with comprehensive blood panels, certain diagnostic testing found nowhere else in the tristate area, and even genetic testing, along with traditional extensive history taking and physical examinations, provide valuable information that can be used to formulate a personalized treatment plan for attacking lurking problems.

Heart attacks and strokes can be terrifying and life changing, and are often misunderstood. But they’re also potentially preventable and treatable. Reach out to Dr. Lee Marcus today to take the first important step to learning more about your specific risks, and routes to attain improved health. Dr. Marcus’ state-of-the-art preventive tests and his well-respected bedside manner will provide you with the tools and confidence you need to potentially reshape your medical future.