OrthoVirginia Blog

5 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

By: Ryan N. Robertson, MD

February is cardiac awareness month, so I wanted to take a chance to comment on the importance of cardiac health. At OrthoVirginia, we have many young and older patients with cardiac disease both known and unknown. Cardiac disease is the number one cause of mortality in the United States with 1 in 4 deaths being tied to heart disease. The good news is heart disease can be controlled or prevented with healthy lifestyle choices and medical management.

Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices. Making healthy changes to your life can lower your risk of developing heart disease, but even for those with heart disease controlling and preventing risk factors is also important.

How to lower your risk

The key factors are:

  • Watch your weight.
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get active and eat healthy.

Weight Loss:

Not being at a healthy weight puts a strain on your heart. Obesity is a leading risk factor for heart disease. With the rates of obesity being somewhere north of 35% it is a major epidemic we must address from a public health standpoint. If diet and exercise have not adequately addressed your weight, seeking medical or surgical management may be warranted to help lower your risk of heart disease as well as the other negative medical impacts.

Smoking Cessation:

Smoking increases one's risk for heart disease and stroke, especially if genetically predisposed. Smoking claims an average of 480,000 lives every year. Smoking decreases our ability to exercise, increases the tendency for blood clots, and decreases the good cholesterol in our bodies. From an orthopaedic stance, it also affects blood supply to tissues making it harder for patients to heal surgical wounds and even soft tissue injuries. Those who use tobacco products have also been linked to higher likelihood of chronic pain issues.

Diet management of Cholesterol and Blood Pressure:

High blood cholesterol can lead to coronary artery disease, heart attack, and peripheral artery disease; keeping cholesterol levels in the normal range can decrease the risk of these diseases. It can be as simple as cutting out high cholesterol foods and decreasing salt intake along with becoming more active. Diet and exercise along with lifestyle modifications should be the first step. But If diet and exercise alone do not lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, you can be prescribed a medication by a physician.

Alcohol Moderation:

The negative effects of alcohol are similar to traditional risk factors of weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. It has been shown previously that alcohol abuse can more than double one's risk of heart failure and 45% increased risk of heart attack than those who don't abuse. While some studies have demonstrated cardiovascular benefits from moderate drinking, low-risk drinking is defined as up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. Drinking beyond these limits can have a negative impact on health in a variety of ways.

Get Active:

Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. It is good to aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week. Being active can prevent and reduce high blood pressure, reduce one's risk of heart attack by up to 86%, lower your resting heart rate and make one's heart more efficient while improving cardiovascular endurance and performance.

At OrthoVirginia we understand our part in this process and take an active role in helping provide patients with options to help manage muscle, tendon and joint pains to allow for patients to stay or become more active and live a non-sedentary lifestyle. These options can take the form of medicines such as anti-inflammatories, education on low impact activities that allow one to be active but minimize pain and trauma, therapy, injections, bracing or surgical interventions.

We also are partnering with Bon Secours St. Francis to form our own chapter in Midlothian of Walk With A Doc an international program formed by a cardiologist to help fight a sedentary lifestyle by encouraging patients and the community to get out and be active while becoming medically informed. We will be hosting our first walk February 13th at American Family Fitness at 6PM. We welcome all ages to come out and walk at their own pace and reclaim an active lifestyle. No registration is needed.

Take the Initiative:

Use this month as a chance to take steps to make yourself healthier and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. If we can help you in addressing any of these risk factors please reach out to our team.

Join us on February 13th for the first Walk With A Doc.


About the Author

Ryan N. Robertson, MD

Dr. Ryan Robertson is a fellowship-trained joint replacement specialist and general orthopaedic surgeon.