5 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Coronary Heart Disease
Heart disease, otherwise known as cardiovascular disease (CVD), is a group of diseases that involve the heart and the blood vessels, many of them related to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition developing from the build up of a substance known as plaque in the inside walls of the arteries. This build-up narrows the arteries and makes it more difficult for blood to flow and if a blood clot forms, it can cause a blockage, leading to a heart attack or stroke. A heart attack occurs due to the blockage of blood flow to a part of the heart, part of the heart muscle supplied by the blocked artery begins to die. While most people survive their first heart attack and experience many more years of activity in a normal life, it is necessary to make some life changes in order to ensure this positive outcome. Whether you are already at risk or just looking to stay healthy, these five tips on heart health should prove useful to reducing the threat of heart disease.
Have Regular Check-ups
Especially as you get older, but even as early as your twenties, it’s important to establish a relationship with a physician and screen early for any signs of heart disease. This will allow you to talk to your doctor and get up-to-date advice on your diet and lifestyle while keeping an eye on your blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index and other indicators of heart health. Always rely on expert advice and not just information you find online which cannot be verified.
Be Physically Active
You don’t need a gym membership or have to play a sport to get enough exercise to reduce your risk of heart disease. It can be as simple as getting in the habit of going for walks regularly. Varying the type of exercise you get or even varying the routes by which you walk can liven up the experience and help you be more likely to stick to it since it won’t become monotonous. If you exercise for thirty minutes on most days, you’re doing great.
Smoking increases the risk of Heart Disease
One might ask how much does smoking increase risk of heart disease? Unfortunately, Smoking is one of the key factors that can increase the risk of heart disease and there is no way we can deny this fact at all. We aren’t even considering the effects of pollution yet. Chemicals in tobacco which is used for smoking can cause damage to your heart and blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis, which can lead to a heart attack. Smoking increase blood pressure and heart rate by forcing your heart to work harder to supply oxygen, which has been replaced by carbon monoxide. Smoking also increase the risk of blood clots. The good news, though, is that your risk of heart disease begins to lower soon after quitting. The risk of coronary heart disease reduces significantly one year after quitting tobacco, so there’s no better time than now to quit. You can successfully quit smoking – don’t give up, even if you falter with one tobacco use. Every day is a new day!
Eating a healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease. Two examples of heart-healthy food plans are the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the Mediterranean diet. Essentially, a regular diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can protect your heart. Suggested items include beans, low-fat/fat-free dairy if necessary, lean meats and fish. Avoid too much salt and sugar at all costs. Certain types of fats should also be avoided, namely, saturated and trans fats. Saturated fat should only comprise 5% to 6% of your diet. Major sources of saturated fats to avoid include red meat, dairy products (full-fat variety), coconut and palm oils while major sources of trans fats to avoid include deep-fried fast foods, bakery products, packaged snack foods, margarine, crackers, chips and cookies. Healthy fats that help your heart and should be eaten include nuts, olives, olive oil and avocados. Combine this with 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day and you are well on your way to a healthy lifestyle.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight means reducing risk of cardiovascular disease through reductions toward healthy levels in blood pressure, cholesterol and blood-sugar. To see if your weight is healthy, calculate your body mass index (BMI) using your height and weight to figure out if you have a healthy percentage of body fat. A BMI of 25 or higher is generally associated with higher cholesterol, blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease or stroke. Understand that BMI is not a perfect measure as muscle weighs more than fat and so waist circumference can also help in determining abdominal fat. Losing weight isn’t easy but keep in mind that even a small reduction in excess weight can be beneficial toward reducing the risk of heart disease.
Hopefully you’ve found these tips helpful when concerned about reducing your risk of heart disease. But before you decide on a course of action in changing to a heart-healthy lifestyle, you are encouraged talk to your doctor and do your own research and come up with a plan that is likely to be effective and to work for you based on your doctor’s expert advice. Find out more about heart disease here and find out more about preventing heart disease here and here.