One of the primary risks of any form of artery disease is that of stroke. As individuals age and their cardiovascular health declines, the risk of stroke increases. Some families are also more susceptible to strokes than others, though there are a few ways to make a stroke less likely. If you’re worried about your cardiovascular health or simply want to stay as healthy as you can, here are four ways you can take control of your cardiovascular health.
1. Avoid Smoking and Limit Alcohol Consumption
Smoking is one of the most dangerous risk factors for artery disease and, by close extension, one of the worst risk factors for strokes. Smoking thickens the blood, encouraging the formation of clots and exacerbates the buildup of plaque in the arteries. If there is one change you can make that will immediately make a significant impact on your overall cardiovascular health, it’s quitting smoking.
Alcohol consumption, too, is another risk factor. While moderate alcohol consumption is ok, having more than two drinks per day will increase your risk of stroke. One drink constitutes 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
Regular exercise can help you achieve a better body composition (fat-to-muscle ratio) and help you keep your blood pressure at healthy levels. The training doesn’t have to be vigorous, but moderate exercise 5 times per week (for at least 30 minutes) will lower your risk of artery disease and stroke.
While this doesn’t have to be done in one half-hour chunk of time, taking a jog (or power walk) around the neighborhood, taking the stairs, or a quick visit to the gym all are options to help stay fit. Finding an accountability buddy or group can help you stay consistent with your exercise routine.
3. Lower Your Blood Pressure
If you know you’re consistently receiving high blood pressure readings, take steps to lower your blood pressure if you can. As mentioned above, quitting your smoking habits and regular exercise can help, but so can changes in diet.
Avoiding cholesterol, such as the kind found in processed meats and high-fat dairy products, will prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries, the primary cause of artery diseases. If you can, try to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits each day (4 cups). Weekly consumption of fish, such as salmon, is also recommended for a heart healthy diet.
4. Get a Scan
If you have a family history of stroke and you currently suffer from any of the symptoms of peripheral artery disease listed in this blog, getting a scan is recommended. Regardless of family history, if you have at least two risk factors (i.e. high cholesterol and high blood pressure), a scan can help determine your risk of stroke-causing artery diseases.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms related to carotid or coronary artery disease, seek medical attention immediately.
Scheduling Your Scan
While requesting a screening with no symptoms or one risk factor (i.e. high cholesterol) is not always advised due to the risk of misdiagnosis, showing signs of any of the symptoms of artery disease should prompt a scan. A family history of artery diseases is also a factor to consider and could warrant a scan if other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, occur.
To schedule your scan or ask questions, you can visit this page to learn more or call us at 918-879-6161.