Cardiothoracic surgeon Marc Katz told Insider that it’s never too soon to start caring about your heart health, particularly with regards to blood pressure management.
Katz is both a cardiologist who treats patients with heart disease and a preventative cardiologist who works with healthy people. This means he has an intimate knowledge of the ways in which one’s lifestyle can contribute to high blood pressure, a condition that raises one’s risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other ailments.
When the blood pressure reading is 130 over 80 mm Hg or higher, it is considered high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Its prevalence increases with age and can be triggered by both heredity and environmental factors. A 2019 study found that the risk of hypertension can be affected by hundreds of different genetic variations.
However, Katz argues that even if you can’t alter your genetic makeup, you can still reduce your risk of hypertension by developing healthy routines early on in life. “The earlier that you make those positive changes, the greater the impact will be on your own health,” he told Insider.
Here are three ways adults in their twenties and thirties can alter their routines to reduce their chances of developing hypertension.
1. Do not eat the steak
Doctor Katz says he warns his patients about the dangers of eating too much red meat, which can lead to an increase in cholesterol.
According to Cleveland Clinic, there is a correlation between high cholesterol and hypertension because the heart has to work harder to pump blood through arteries that have become narrowed or hardened due to cholesterol buildup.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are two of the leading causes of heart disease; addressing diet is one way to bring these under control. Katz claimed that most foods that increase cholesterol levels come from other animals because all animals produce cholesterol.
He remarked, “That stuff has to go somewhere after we eat it.”
Steak dinners are among the things he encourages his patients to enjoy “in moderation,” he said.
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He advocated for making small, sustainable changes to one’s diet over the course of one’s life, rather than jumping on the latest fad diet or eating plan.
2. Maintain your workout schedule even after experiencing a setback.
No amount of exercise can make up for a bad diet, and a healthy diet can only get you so far without it, according to Katz.
He said he encourages improvement rather than perfection on both lifestyle factors.
Katz remarked that “everyone goes through life and things happen to them” that prevent them from going to the gym every day that week or from eating properly for a few weeks due to stress. If something like that happens, it’s not necessary to torture yourself indefinitely.
3. Put down the vape and stay down
According to the American Heart Association, cigarette smoking raises blood pressure, which can cause organ damage.
According to Katz, vaping is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Due to the novelty of e-cigarettes, there isn’t as much evidence linking them to health risks, but preliminary studies have shown that vaping also raises heart rate and blood pressure.
Preliminary findings presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2022 suggest that the effects of e-cigarette use and cigarette smoking may have similar impacts on heart function, despite the widespread belief that vaping is safer.
High blood pressure and heart rate were also observed in the vaping group immediately after using e-cigarettes, despite the fact that many of the cigarette smokers in the study had been using nicotine for decades longer than the vapers. Long-term effects of vaping on cardiovascular health are unknown at this time.
“Young people will have to decide at some point: do you want to be vaping for the rest of your life?” I quote Katz: No medical professional, in my opinion, would recommend it as a healthy option.