The start of February kicks off American Heart Month where healthcare organization, community groups, and similar groups try to spread awareness about the importance of heart health and prevent heart disease.
Heart disease is extremely common among U.S adults, and some of the statistics about national rates of heart disease are troubling. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1 in 4 deaths in the U.S each year are caused by heart disease. A person’s chance of developing heart disease increases if they have an unhealthy diet, inactive lifestyle, a tobacco or alcohol dependency, or other high-risk activities.
However, patients should understand that heart disease is easily preventable if they are able to take control of their health and make better healthcare decisions.
The best way for patients to manage their heart health is through a three-step approach that emphasizes some of the most effective prevention techniques. These techniques include regular medical appointments, lifestyle changes, and self-evaluations of their medical conditions.
Get a physical exam, routine blood pressure screenings, to diagnose heart disease
Patients may not even know their heart disease risks, or if they currently have heart disease, without a proper screening or similar preventive care services.
Preventive care services allow medical providers to diagnose a condition and provide recommended treatment. Ideally, patients should get any screenings and preventive services as soon as possible to help address symptoms, and best manage heart disease risks.
Services including blood pressure screening, cholesterol measurement, heart rate measurement are just a few types of screenings that help diagnose heart disease. The Mayo Clinic also found that several types of screenings and imaging tests including electrocardiograms and CT scans help doctors diagnose for heart disease.
A patient that may need preventive screenings ASAP should try their nearest urgent care center. An urgent care center provides physicals, diagnostic services including blood tests, and high blood pressure screenings for low costs with shorter waits than other facilities. If your primary care provider is not available at an ideal time, then using an urgent care center may be your best option to get these services completed.
Make any lifestyle changes that can help lower your risks or symptoms of heart disease
Healthy lifestyle factors and behaviors = are significant for making sure that you don’t get heart disease, as well as for keeping any heart disease symptoms in check. Conversely, a lifestyle that contains a lot of high risks for developing or exacerbating heart disease.
The CDC explains that the three major clinical risk factors for developing heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. But the main environmental and behavioral risk factors can elevate a person’s clinical risks for heart disease. The main lifestyle, behavioral, and environmental risks of developing heart disease include:
- Physical inactivity
- High alcohol consumption
- Frequent tobacco use
It may be difficult to start changing some of your habits and routines to reduce your heart disease risks. Thankfully, local communities and medical professionals can help improve your healthy habits and reduce heart disease risks over a steady period.
Ask your primary care provider or even your urgent care staff about recommended ways to change lifestyle factors. Primary care providers and urgent care centers can help patients plan a weight loss management program and refer patients to specialists including nutritionists, dietitians, and fitness trainers.
Additionally, individuals at an increased risk for heart disease should look for local wellness or fitness groups that can help jumpstart a fitness routine. Other local organizations and healthcare providers can also help connect individuals to tobacco cessation or sober life counseling to help manage alcohol and tobacco use.
Patients need to be on top of their heart disease risks and/or symptoms 24/7
Most importantly, patients need to incorporate self-care into their daily lives and manage their symptoms as best as humanly possible. Staying on top of your heart disease prevention activities allows you to live your best possible life with limited symptoms and relatively few health complications.
The Mayo Clinic provides a helpful guide on how patients can maintain self-care and create a blueprint of their daily self-care activities. The main suggestions provided by the Mayo Clinic include:
- Cutting back and quitting tobacco use altogether
- Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes on most days of the week
- Eat a heart-healthy diet with limited trans and saturated fats
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Maintain a healthy sleep schedule of 8 hours a night
Self-care ties into improving behavior lifestyle factors as mentioned before, but a key part of self-care is getting routine medical appointments. It cannot be understated how important it is to get regular blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screenings.
If you’re in the Denver area, make sure to schedule an appointment at one of our four AFC Urgent Care centers to help get your necessary screenings.
For American Heart Month, our teams at AFC Urgent Care Cherry Creek, Denver Speer, Denver Highlands, and Denver East are here to help guide your preventive heart care whenever you need it. Come in today for a fast appointment, low-cost, and peace of mind as we jump start your new and improved heart health management plan!