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The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease, which kills more than 385,000 people every year. In the U.S $108.9 billion is spent each year on health care services and medications for this disease.
The major risk factors that are involved in causing heart disease are high LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking. Almost half of the American population has one of the above mentioned risk factors.
There are some other factors as well that contribute in developing heart disease, they are:
- Poor diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive use of alcohol
So today we aim to tell you about some strategies that can help to save you from heart disease and will also improve the quality of your life. These strategies would provide you with a “heart-healthy lifestyle”.
As mentioned earlier one out of the three major risk factors causing heart disease is smoking. What makes smoking so dangerous? There are some chemicals found in tobacco that can prove to be harmful for the heart and blood vessels. The cause atherosclerosis or in other words they can narrow down the walls of the arteries, which ultimately results in a heart attack.
If you think smoking in a low amount can prevent heart disease, you are wrong!
Remember! “No amount of smoking is safe”. Low-nicotine, Low-tar or smokeless tobacco, all types of cigarettes are bad for your heart. Even exposure to second hand smoke is equally dangerous.
What else is bad about smoking cigarettes? The nicotine contents present in the cigarettes make your blood vessels narrow, increases your blood pressure and your heart rate as a result your heart needs to work harder. Also some of the oxygen present in your blood is replaced by carbon monoxide, in order to supply oxygen required by your body the heart is forced to work harder resulting in high blood pressure.
Even “social smoking”, occasional smoking with friends or at a bar, can put you at the risk of developing a heart disease.
In addition to that, studies show that women who smoke and take contraceptive pills are more likely to suffer from stroke or a heart attack than women who do not do either. The risk is associated with the age, women more than 35 years of age are more at the risk.
As soon as you will quit smoking, the risk of developing a heart disease diminishes over a time period of one year. No matter how long you have been smoking, the moment you quit, you will be rewarded.
Exercise Regularly for 30 minutes
Maintaining a healthy body weight combined with physical activities can lower down your risk of developing a heart disease.
It is suggested to take exercise for 30 to 60 minutes, at least 5 times a week. If taking out 30 minutes off your routine, in one go is too much for you, you can break up your exercise routine into 10 minute sessions.
Physical activities such as housekeeping, gardening, walking the dog and even climbing the stairs can be added to your total.
Eat Heart-healthy Foods
DASH or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is a diet plan, specially designed to protect your heart from diseases and for making it healthy. Remember how our heart will work depends a lot on the kind of food we eat.
The DASH diet plan suggests you to eat foods that are low in cholesterol, fat and salt. It focuses on the consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products. It also suggests some low-fat sources of proteins found in beans and some types of fish, which are essential for maintaining heart health and also for reducing the risk of developing heart disease.
Avoid consuming trans fats and saturated fats as they can raise blood cholesterol and put you at the risk of developing coronary artery disease.
Major saturated fat sources are:
- Red meat
- Coconut and palm oils
- Dairy products
Sources of trans fat include:
- Fast foods (Deep fried)
- Bakery products
- Packaged snack foods
You can take foods labeled as, “partially hydrogenated”.
Heart- healthy eating requires a lot of intake of fruits and vegetables, almost 10 servings per day. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like mackerel and salmon are also very beneficial for decreasing the risk of heart attack and for controlling irregular heartbeats. You can also find omega-3 fatty acids in walnut oil, canola oil, flaxseed oil and soybean oil.
Also limit the consumption of alcohol, as moderate consumption can provide protection to your heart against heart disease. Men should not consume more than two drinks and women shouldn’t consume more than one drink in a day.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Weight gain in adulthood doesn’t result in muscle formation; rather it happens because of increase in fats. Obesity can lead to conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, while putting you at a risk of heart disease.
The most effective way to analyze whether you have a healthy weight is BMI or body mass index. BMI takes your weight and height in to consideration to determine whether you are having a healthy percentage of fat or not. People with BMI numbers equal to 25 or higher are more at a risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Another useful tool is waist circumference, in which abdominal fat is measured.
- If you are a man with a waist measuring 40 inches or more you are considered overweight
- If you are a woman with a waist line more than 35 inches, it indicates that you are overweight
Even a small reduction in your weight can reap fruitful results. A 10% decrease in your body weight can instantly decrease the risk of diabetes, and can lower down your blood cholesterol and blood pressure.
Go for Health Screenings Regularly
Regular health screenings provides you with the evidence for conditions like high cholesterol and high blood pressure, so that you may proceed with their treatments and take serious actions.
Adults should get there blood pressure checked once in every two years. Less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury is the optimal blood pressure in a healthy person. If your numbers are above the optimal range then you need to check your blood pressure more frequently.
Adults with the age 20 or above should get their cholesterol levels checked once in every 5 years. If you have a family history or other risk factors then you may require more frequent check-ups.
Diabetes is also one of the major risk factors for heart disease so it should be screened as well. If you have a family history of diabetes or you are overweight then you might have to get your blood sugar monitored. After the age of 30 to 45 diabetes screening should be done once in every 3 to 5 years.