Heart Health: Tips from the World’s Leading Cardiologists

Every year, thousands of patients enter the hospital for the NYU aortic aneurysm procedure. This is a heart procedure that repairs an aneurysm, or a bulge, in the aorta before it causes the blood vessel to burst. The aorta is the largest artery in the heart, and if it bursts, the risk of death is extremely high. What could have been done for these high-risk patients to have saved them from such a risky operation?

The risks for an aortic aneurysm are the same for any type of cardiovascular disease. They include smoking, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Therefore, the world’s leading cardiologists always urge their patients to avoid these risk factors. But how?

Smoking

The old adage is if you don’t smoke, don’t start and if you do smoke, quit. The first part’s easy, but the second part is hard as nicotine is one of the more addictive drugs known to mankind. It doesn’t help that it’s perfectly legal. Fortunately, there are many ways to quit smoking, from nicotine patches and gum to hypnosis to the old standby of cold turkey.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure in an adult is considered to be higher than 140/90 mm Hg. The bad news about high blood pressure is that in most cases doctors don’t know what causes it. Another bit of bad news about high blood pressure is that in most cases it’s asymptomatic, or silent. But high blood pressure forces the heart to work harder than it should. This not only causes the heart to become enlarged in an unhealthy way but also causes scarring and hardening of the arteries that grow worse as a person ages. This is called atherosclerosis.

The one bit of good news is that high blood pressure can be controlled. There are several classes of drugs that work well to control high blood pressure, but cardiologists also recommend lifestyle changes to their patients. First, they should:

Cut down on the salt intake

Sodium makes the body retain fluid, which contributes to high blood pressure.

Increase potassium, magnesium and calcium intake

These minerals are often neglected at the expense of sodium. All four need to be in balance for the blood pressure to be within normal range.

Lose weight

People who are obese are three times more likely to suffer from high blood pressure as people whose weight is considered normal.

Add fiber to the diet

Adding fiber also can help reduce high blood pressure.

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