Things to avoid if you're at risk for heart disease


Did you know that certain foods, circumstances and activities are dangerous for your heart, especially if you have heart disease or are at risk for it? You may be at a higher risk for heart disease if you have diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity or poor dietary habits. Being overweight or obese, being physically inactive and using tobacco are also risk factors for heart disease. 

If you have heart disease or are at risk for it, here are some foods and activities to avoid.

Foods to avoid
To eat well for your heart, you’ll want to avoid foods high in calories, salt (or sodium), fat and sugar. Some foods that seem healthy may actually be putting your heart in the danger zone. For example, restaurant appetizers and “healthy” entrees, like salads, often contain lots of calories, sodium and fat. You might be more suspicious of fast food, and for good reason. Many fast-food options are deep-fried in cheap oil and packed with calories and saturated fat.

When you're grocery shopping, do your best to stay away from premade, pre-packaged and frozen meals. They’re often as unhealthy as eating fast food. Just remember that the more "convenient" a meal is, the less likely it is to be good for your heart. Try to only shop around the perimeter of the grocery store, where you find fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoid the center aisles where the processed foods are typically kept. 

Other dangers to your heart
Stress: Experts know that stress can bring on heart attacks. Whether you’re stressed because of work or your personal life, stress is incredibly hard on your heart and can lead to a heart attack. To avoid stress, identify the things that are causing you stress and, if possible, cut them out of your life. You can also relieve stress by taking up a hobby you enjoy, exercising regularly and practicing meditation. 

Shoveling snow: Heavy physical labor and cold weather don’t go well together and can cause a heart attack. If you’re at risk for a heart attack or heart disease, take care to dress warmly, take frequent breaks and drink lots of water.

A sedentary lifestyle: Being inactive is dangerous to your heart. Sitting for hours at a desk or on the couch can increase your risk for heart attack, even if you exercise. If you haven’t been active for a while, you’ll want to check with your physician about how to safely build more activity into your life.

Snoring: If you snore at night, don’t ignore it. Snoring could be a symptom of heart-related risks. 

Exposure to smoke: As always, if you smoke, quit immediately. Smoking promotes blood clots, which can block blood flow to your heart, and adds to plaque buildup in your arteries. Goshen Health has a smoking cessation program that can help you quit. If you lives with someone who smokes, discuss your concerns for their health and encourage them to stop smoking. 

Finally, visit your primary care provider for routine preventive care visits. Good self-care and regular visits to your primary care provider will help you get timely screenings and tests, identify issues early and reduce your risk of heart disease. 

For more information on living a heart-healthy lifestyle, consult a primary caregiver with Goshen Physicians Primary Care