Heart disease, and other heart-related problems, are the number one cause of death today.
In fact, more than 600,000 people die from heart disease every year, accounting for one in every four deaths, according to the CDC. For that reason, heart surgery is also one of the most common types of surgery performed. For some, heart surgery is performed in response to a genetic heart condition, but for most, it’s a result of poor lifestyle choices.
Surgery is a dangerous endeavor. It’s difficult to know if something will go wrong or if you’ll fall victim to human error while on the operating table. More than 400,000 people die each year due to medical error, making it the third leading cause of death in America.
The best way to ensure this won’t happen to you is to lead a healthy life. Though some will never be able to escape heart surgery thanks to their genetic heart conditions, in many cases, surgery can be avoided if precautions are taken. Here are a few tips for keeping your heart healthy and procedure free.
1. Quit Bad Habits
Perhaps the first step in getting your heart healthy is quitting habits that are bad for your health. For starters, put down those cigarettes. The American Heart Association and countless other institutions have published study after study on the negative effects that smoking has on your heart.
Laziness, skipping breakfast, drinking too much alcohol, engaging in high stress activities, and other bad habits also have a severe effect on your overall heart health. Replace each of these bad habits with good ones, such as eating breakfast as part of a new morning routine.
2. Exercise Daily
Doctors tell you over and over that you need to exercise, and they’re right. The best medicine for your heart is daily activity. Cardiovascular exercise is known as such for a reason: running, walking, biking, dancing, and other high-intensity workouts are great for strengthening your heart and keeping your blood flowing freely.
Researchers have also discovered numerous health benefits associated with exercises that strengthen your core. Practicing yoga is a great way to do this, since it helps you to become more flexible and strengthens your muscles around your heart, back, and belly, which promotes circulation in those areas.
3. Watch Your Diet
You are what you eat, the saying goes, and if you continue to eat unhealthy, fatty, and greasy foods, you’ll likely wind up a heart disease patient. Discuss with your doctor the best diet for you, but in most cases, copious amount of green vegetables, foods loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, and unprocessed or packaged foods are the best ways to ensure you’re getting your daily dose of healthy foods.
As a good rule of thumb for choosing healthy foods, watch your salt intake very closely. Salt is one of the major ingredients in fast food, restaurant-prepared food, and pre-packaged food, mostly because it acts as a preservative. However, too much salt is one of the leading causes of coronary heart disease in the United States. In fact, one study published by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that if everyone in the United States reduced their salt intake by just half a teaspoon a day, it would reduce the number of deaths from coronary heart disease by one third.
4. Lose Some Weight
Those who are overweight or obese are at highest risk for developing heart problems, which makes exercise an integral part of staying heart healthy. It’s important not to feel bad about your body if you do have a few extra pounds, but it’s more important to take the necessary steps to reduce or eliminate that extra fat if you want to have a healthy heart.
Talk to your doctor about the best diet and exercise plan for you in order to get to a healthy weight. It will be a difficult road, but it’s the absolute best way to avoid a heart surgery in the future.