Cardiovascular diseases is a serious epidemic worldwide. It is estimated each year 17.9 million people die from cardiovascular disease, it is responsible for 31% of worldwide deaths, 85% of the deaths are due to stroke and heart attacks. One of the biggest contributors to this disease are unhealthy lifestyles. Lifestyles that raise blood pressure, glucose, lipids and lead to obesity. However, there are steps you can take at each stage of your life to prevent heart disease.
1) Avoid Smoking and Secondhand Smoke
Smoking is one of the most biggest risk factors to heart disease. If you do not smoke, do not even try it. Tobacco is highly addictive and raises your blood pressure significantly. It is also one of the main causes atherosclerosis, a disease where plaque builds up inside your arteries. This can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
However if you are already smoking, try your best to quit. You will suffer from many short term effects such as irritability and anxiety. However, in the long term you will have better circulation and your blood pressure will return to normal. But even if you do not smoke, do your best to avoid secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke from work or home can raise your likelihood of developing heart disease or lung cancer up to 30 percent.
2) Eat Healthy
Practicing a balanced nutritious diet is essential to your health. Your diet should be one that emphasizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes. In general, try to avoid trans fats and eat food that include saturated fats, salt and refined sugar in moderation. Additionally, eat some heart-healthy foods from the Mediterranean diet like salmon, berries, nuts and olive oil. Coordinate with your physical activity, so you are using up the calories you gain. Try to follow DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), which research indicates will lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
3) Exercise Regularly
A good consistent exercise regiment will strengthen your heart and improve your circulation. It will also keep you in a healthy weight which will lower your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol. The recommended amount is 30-40 minutes with at least 3-4 sessions per week. Some individuals have very busy work and lifestyles, that make even this amount of hard to do. But something is better than nothing. Research shows even engaging in exercise 10 minutes at a time produces some benefits. If you are young start now, it is easier to exercise then and sustain to old age.
4) Health Screenings
Without getting regular health screenings, you might have high blood pressure and cholesterol without even knowing it. Even if you are healthy it is important to regularly wellness exams. Your doctor will be able to give you an accurate picture of your diet and lifestyle effectiveness, your blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, blood sugar and body mass index. Keep your doctor informed on any health related issues. Also get to know your family health history, having a relative with heart disease increase your chance to gain it too. Thus, having this knowledge give you the opportunity to take precautions.
5) Limit Alcohol Use
There is some evidence, that alcohol is good for your heart because it raises HDL or “good” cholesterol, stops blood from clotting and prevents damage caused by high LDL, the “bad” cholesterol. However, only moderate amount is recommended and it’s not suitable for everyone. Drinking a high amount of alcohol regularly increases blood pressure. Binge drinking , four or more in about 2 hours, is especially bad as it can cause irregular heart rhythm. Additionally, drinking alcohol can lead to weight gain. It is recommend that you should drink no more than two standard alcoholic drinks (375ml beer/100ml wine) a day.
6) Manage Stress
Having a high amount of stress is not just damaging psychologically but physically as well. Stress leads to many people coping in negative ways including overeating, drinking alcohol and smoking. Behaviors that may contribute to heart disease. Thus, take time to practice stress management techniques whether it’s watching TV or meditation.
7) Get Good Sleep
The recommended amount of sleep each night is 7 to 9 hours. Sleep is essential to physical health. Practicing good habits will lower your risk of heart diseases. If you do not have enough sleep, your metabolism will slow down and you will be less motivated to exercise.Try to set a sleep schedule and a set time you sleep. Regular exercise and low caffeine use are also ways to maintain a good sleep routine. If you have issues sleeping, consult your doctor.