Prevention is key to maintaining a healthy heart

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Cardiovascular disease claims more lives each year than all forms of cancer, according to the American Heart Association.

This statement from the association’s latest report highlights the importance of a healthy heart and the danger of not taking care of one of the bodies key organs.

The association reported that between 2013 and 2016, about 121 million American adults had some form of cardiovascular disease.

The causes for the disease can range from a person’s genes, which makes prevention difficult; poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking.

However, Americans can help themselves prevent the development of the disease by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This includes a healthy diet and regular exercise.

“A healthy lifestyle is very important. There are so many benefits of exercise across so many domains of health,” said Dr. Greg Kelley, physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Princeton Spine and Joint Center. “Whether cardiovascular health, blood sugar control, maintaining bone density and muscle mass. Regular exercise when is it comes to cardiovascular health can decrease blood pressure significantly and can get people off of blood pressure medications.”

Kelley explained that when people exercise, their muscles are able to extract oxygen more efficiently, which benefits individuals who already have a history of heart disease.

Regular exercise is a key part of prevention, but it is important that people ease into it if formal exercise has not part of your regular routine, according to Kelley.

“People who go straight into an aggressive workout routine early on can put themselves at greater risk of injury. I would say supervised guidance initially is wise, especially with people who have been less active,” Kelley said. “I counsel people to get in touch with trainer at their gym or some sort of fitness instructor that can guide them and start a program that is suitable for them.”

Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week is what Kelley recommends for individuals seeking to start a daily routine of exercise.

Aerobic exercise can include aspects of running on the treadmill, biking, walking, or swimming.

“It would be great to get people to do it five times a week. However, if you only do it once or twice a week there is still a benefit,” Kelley said. “In addition to aerobic exercises, there have been studies that say there is a benefit with resistance and weight training. That is a key second part to the aerobic exercises.”

The AHA’s latest report also spotlighted that Americans have improved on their nutrition diet by decreasing their poor diets.

“Eating well puts people in a better mindset. Working out frequently and eating poorly do not align well,” Kelley said. “If people are eating poorly it is putting them at a disadvantage. You want to make certain you are getting the right amount of nutrition and goes hand in hand with exercise.”

According to Harvard University’s Medical School, a person’s diet should focus on plant foods and minimize the intake of red meat.

This diet includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and healthy oils like olive oil.

Harvard officials added that on top of a healthy diet Americans getting at least seven hours of sleep per night helps to reduce heart disease risk factors; such as higher stress, increased inflammation, high blood pressure and weight gain.

“Prevention is much more of an effective treatment strategy, than trying to reverse adverse medical events that have already occurred. Prevention is something that I like to promote and do so for those at a younger age as well,” Kelley said. “We do not want people to get to the point to where they are developing problems from not having a healthy lifestyle.”