Health Watch: Keep your heart healthy

ORLANDO, Fla. -- New research from the CDC shows heart problems that were preventable killed about 415,000 Americans in 2016. If you want to lower your risk of having a major heart event, Ivanhoe has some ways.

Heart disease causes one in every four deaths. So, how can you keep from becoming a statistic?

Prakash Balan, MD, JD, Interventional Cardiologist at UT Health/Memorial Hermann says, "There are probably many risk factors that we don't yet fully appreciate."

One known risk factor is not moving! A 2018 study published in circulation found that physical activity may partly override your genes when it comes to your heart. For people with an elevated genetic risk, high fitness levels were linked to a 49 percent lower risk of heart disease. Another heart protector: being social!

Social connection and even being married may ward off heart problems, while loneliness might boost your risk of heart attack and stroke. Another little known heart protector: spending time in a sauna. A study published in the journal, neurology, has shown sauna bathing can reduce the risk of heart disease, heart failure, and stroke because it may lower blood pressure by stimulating blood flow to the skin. And another recommendation is to load up on vitamin D! Research shows people with low vitamin D levels are 32 percent more likely to have heart disease. But maybe the best advice:

"Pay attention to your symptoms. If you're having symptoms, get them checked out," Dr. Balan continued.

Chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, and nausea are just some signs that you should get checked out immediately.

According to the University of Arizona, diet also matters when it comes to your heart. Eating a diet rich in fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fish, and reduced-fat dairy can lead to an 18 percent reduction in heart attack risk.