According to CDC stats, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S., across all genders and most races and ethnicities. Annually, we can attribute one in every four deaths to cardiovascular disease. In observation of American Heart Month, what should you know about the link between heart disease and addiction, and how can you take steps to improve your heart health?
Heart Disease and Addiction: What You Should Know
A worsening addiction can make you more likely to neglect your overall health. People struggling with substance use disorders spend significant amounts of time obtaining and using drugs or alcohol, causing their healthy nutrition and fitness priorities to fall by the wayside.
Over time, substance abuse can also weaken and damage your body’s organs and systems, including your cardiovascular system. Complications might include:
- High blood pressure
- Bad circulation
- Heart attack or stroke
- Cardiac arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat
- Tachycardia or bradycardia
- Brain hemorrhage
- Hardened arteries
- Coronary artery disease
Tips for Improving Your Heart Health
You may be at a higher risk for heart disease and its resulting health problems if you regularly abuse drugs and alcohol, or if you have a family history of cardiovascular illness. However, heart disease can be preventable if you take smart steps to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle.
- Assess your risk factors: Understand your likelihood of getting heart disease, based on your lifestyle, genetics and other factors. Your doctor can help you with this.
- Check your blood pressure: Hypertension earned its nickname, “the silent killer,” because the condition doesn’t usually have any outward symptoms or warning signs. It can help to buy an inexpensive home blood pressure cuff and remember to use it regularly. If you notice your blood pressure is usually high, make a doctor’s appointment. A physician can recommend specific lifestyle changes or prescribe medications to lower your blood pressure.
- Reduce your sodium intake: If you tend to buy mostly processed foods, you could be unwittingly consuming much more salt than you should. Read the nutrition labels on canned, frozen and pre-packaged goods, and try to use alternative spices while cooking. For example, red pepper, lemon pepper, basil, oregano and garlic can all enhance flavors without tipping the scales on your sodium intake.
- Maintain a healthy body weight: Overweight and obese people are at a significantly higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Taking steps to lose weight, including regular exercise and eating a nutritionally balanced diet, can also go a long way toward helping improve your heart health.
- Relieve stress: Though some level of stress is beneficial for you, chronic stress can be tremendously detrimental for your overall well-being. Learning how to manage tension and anxiety can help you relax and live a healthier life. Use positive self-care techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, walking, doing yoga and being in nature.
- Stop drinking and using drugs: The combination of heart disease and addiction has led to countless tragic deaths. If you have tried to cut back or quit drinking and drug use on your own without success, you’re likely an excellent candidate for medically supervised detox, followed by a stay in an inpatient rehab program.
Accredited Drug and Alcohol Treatment in New Mexico
If you are struggling to overcome substance misuse and drug dependency, Vista Taos Renewal Center is an ideal setting for starting your recovery. We provide holistic addiction treatment in the traditional spiritual center of Taos, New Mexico. Reach out to our admissions team today to learn more about how we can help you.