Our heart works beat by beat, second by second for 24 hours a day, never resting. Over the average lifetime, our heart beats about 2.5 billion times, pushing millions of gallons of blood to every part of the body. This steady flow carries with it oxygen, fuel, hormones, other compounds, and a host of essential cells. When the heart stops, essential functions fail, some almost instantly.
The most common cardiac problem is atherosclerosis. This is the accumulation of pockets of cholesterol-rich gunk inside the arteries. These pockets, called plaque, can limit blood flow through arteries that nourish the heart — the coronary arteries — and other arteries throughout the body. When a plaque breaks apart, it may cause a heart attack or stroke. A healthy lifestyle, especially when started at a young age, helps prevent cardiovascular diseases. Lifestyle changes and medications can nip heart-harming trends, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, in the bud before they cause damage.
Reduce your risk of Heart disease:
Apart from the hereditary factors which are not in your control, here are a few ways to improve your lifestyle and minimize your risk of heart disease:
1. Get moving.
Step one of a heart-healthy plan is to make time for physical activity. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends being active for at least 30 minutes each day. Regular exercise helps speed up weight loss, which is important as obesity can increase the risk of heart disease.
2. Quit smoking.
Smoking cigarettes raises your risk of developing heart disease by two to four times as it causes plaque build-up and hardened arteries, both of which make your heart work harder.
3. Manage stress.
Stress causes strain on the heart, which creates a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Exercise or practice meditation can help you keep stress in check.
4. Maintain a healthy weight.
Obesity can increase the risk for heart disease even if you have no other risk factors. Maintaining a healthy weight is important to protect your heart from damage or fatigue. When your weight is in a healthy range, your blood circulates more effectively and necessary fluid levels are managed, preventing strain on your heart.
5. Eat a healthy diet.
The foods you eat play a huge role in whether you gain too much weight and develop high cholesterol, both of which can increase your risk for heart disease. To prevent or manage high cholesterol, steer clear of foods that are high in saturated fats — such as processed foods, and desserts like packaged cookies, cakes, and candies. The fat in these foods raises levels of bad cholesterol, which can lead to plaque in your arteries. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.
6. Manage high blood pressure.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the most deceptive risk factors for heart disease because there aren’t any physical symptoms — you need to have your blood pressure checked to know if you’re in the heart-healthy range. Left untreated, high blood pressure can cause damage to arteries and organs like the heart.
7. Manage high cholesterol.
High cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the “bad” cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the “good” cholesterol. Too much bad cholesterol and not enough good cholesterol can result in plaque building up on the walls of arteries. Over time, arteries harden and become narrower, which can lead to heart disease.
8. Control diabetes.
Diabetes is an example of how one health condition can start a chain reaction of other medical issues, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. More than 65 percent of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
Eat Heart Healthy
Eating a varied diet of healthy foods can help with your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Here are a few changes to make to your diet to help prevent heart disease:
- Eat less salt: Reducing your salt intake is good for your blood pressure.
- Replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats: Replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats can reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Limit alcohol: Read about alcohol recommendations and tips for cutting down on out.
- Eat a rainbow: Include fruits and vegetables of various colours in your diet.
- Eat whole grains: Choose whole grains over refined grains.
Prevent Heart disease
Heart disease is the #1 cause of death globally. The 3 major risk factors for heart disease are high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking. Preventing high blood cholesterol begins with understanding your risk. Get yourself and your family regularly screened for these crucial numbers.
Consult our expert cardiologists at our Centre for Cardiac Sciences to know more about preventative heart care and about cardiac health check-up. Please find the below link for more details: