Virtual Imaging: Early Detection Saves Lives. Imagery of two elderly couples jogging outside and smiling.

6 Simple Steps to Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

1. Kick the tobacco habit

This suggestion may be painfully obvious, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, we cannot stress enough the lethal implications smoking may have on the heart. Fortunately, it’s never too late to quit and prevent a heart attack. Within just one year of quitting, you’ll lower your chance of developing heart disease by 50 percent (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

2. Diet and exercise

Here’s another no-brainer of substantial importance. A healthy diet and exercise regimen can do wonders for keeping your heart healthy. As a general rule, steer clear of processed foods, saturated fats, and foods high in salt and cholesterol. Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, and foods containing antioxidants (legumes and berries, for example), and omega 3-fatty acids (think salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts).

Don’t forget to exercise, as well—even if that means parking a little further away from the mall or taking the stairs instead of the elevator once a day.

3. Limit alcohol consumption

Some studies suggest that a glass of red wine each night is good for the heart, but many doctors are divided on the validity of that verdict. Whether or not the findings are accurate, be wary of excessive alcohol consumption; heavy drinking can be hazardous to the heart. Limit your consumption to one or two drinks per day, at most.

4. Get your eight hours in

A 10-year Harvard University study tracked the sleep patterns and health of more than 70,000 women who had no prior heart trouble. The results? The five percent of women who slept less than five hours per night were nearly 40 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease than women who slept an average of eight hours. Don’t hit the snooze button too many times, though. Women who slept more than nine hours per night were 37 percent more likely to have heart problems.

5. Take baby aspirin

Both the Food and Drug Administration and the American Heart Association recommend a daily dose of aspirin to prevent heart attacks. The medicine thins the blood, preventing dangerous clotting that could potentially lead to an attack. Be careful not to overdo it, as a lethal dose of aspirin could cause internal bleeding. The FDA and AHA recommend adults take between 75 and 81 milligrams per day, or the equivalence to one baby aspirin.

6. Get regular screenings

While the previous five suggestions may dramatically decrease your possibility of developing heart disease, how do you know if you’re doing enough to prevent an attack? The only way to know for certain your risk of developing heart disease is by receiving a comprehensive heart exam.

Virtual Imaging, using the EBT C300 scanner, offers the heart scan as its premier method of cardiac risk assessment. According to the American Heart Association, the EBT technology, which is exclusively available at Virtual Imaging, is the non-invasive gold standard for determining the development and extent of plaque in the arteries. The scan is easy and painless. In fact, the entire study can be completed in the time it takes for you to hold a single breath.

So why wait any longer? Request an appointment at Virtual Imaging by calling (770) 730-0119. Getting screened might be the one step you take that prevents a heart attack.