Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death amongst men and women around the world. Whilst we are not always in control of our genes or our genetics, there are a couple of lifestyle choices that can heavily influence the health of our heart and prevent heart disease. For individuals who are looking to be proactive in managing their health and their heart, here are 5 practical ways, you can protect yourself from heart disease..
The 5 Ways to reduce Heart Disease are..
1. Reduce Blood Pressure
Those with high blood pressure are at a higher risk of developing heart disease than those with normal or low blood pressure. Usually high BP goes unnoticed, till it becomes an issue. In order to manage this heart disease risk factor, have your blood pressure checked regularly, or at least once per year. If it is high, work with your doctor on strategies to lower it in order to maintain a healthy heart. Reduce weight, stop smoking, exercise and a healthy diet are some of the things that will help to manage and even lower blood pressure in most people.
2. Stop Smoking
Everybody knows that smoking is bad for you. Period. Bad for the lungs, the heart.. you name it. So why do people still smoke? It has been proven that smokers are at a higher risk of developing heart disease than non-smokers. So, to reduce your overall risk of developing heart disease, either avoid smoking or stop completely. Don’t leave it till it’s too late. There are many prescription items that can help you stop such as the nicorette patch.
Can’t emphasise enough, how important it is to sweat and get your heart rate up! Exercise has shown tremendous results in the prevention of heart disease. Most health care professionals will advise individuals to target 3-5 times per week , for 30-40 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. Walking, Swimming, Cycling and Running are some examples of good cardiovascular choices to begin with. In addition to cardiovascular exercise, muscle conditioning is important, and not very hard to do – by lifting your own body weight, or carrying light weights 2-3 times per week you can build up a strong frame. Muscle also helps you to burn more fat.
4. Eat Healthy
Eating well not only gives you a great body, it gives you a clean and healthy ‘inside’ as well. Maintaining a healthy weight can work to control our blood pressure, our cholesterol and it can prevent diabetes, all potential risk factors for the development of heart disease. Here are some foods that can help protect our heart.
Leafy Greens. Magnesium is a mineral that is important to the functioning of nearly every part of the body. It may also protect against atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque within arterial walls that can lead to heart attack or stroke. Found in bone tissue, organ cells and the blood stream, magnesium helps regulate blood sugar and maintain healthy nerve function, as well as keep the bones and immune system strong. Eat more foods rich in magnesium have a lower risk of ischemic stroke, the analysis of 7 international surveys of 250 thousand people, published in the journal American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The main source of magnesium is green leafy vegetables. Foods rich in minerals, are nuts, legumes and whole grains.
Fish. Fish can be an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids, helpful in the promotion of a healthy heart. You can obtain these healthy Omega 3 fatty acids in vitamin supplements, however, it is considered more beneficial to absorb them through natural sources. Eating cold water fish (salmon, herring, cod, halibut) 2-3 times per week is an effective strategy in maintaining a healthy heart and reducing your risk of a heart attack.
Dark Chocolate. Eating dark chocolate is an easy choice, in the fight against heart disease. Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids, a helpful antioxidant substance in our bodies. Also, dark chocolate has been proven to reduce blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease for many. But don’t over-do it. You don’t want to get fat from the sugars in chocolates either.
Green Tea. Green tea has gained a tremendous amount of attention for its numerous health properties. In consideration of heart health, the nutrients found within green tea have shown to reduce the plaque build up on the artery walls surrounding the heart, a leading cause for heart attacks. I drink green tea everyday and believe me it works. Keeps me alert, but does not give me that dirty buzz that caffeine does and protects me from atherosclerosis.
5. Reduce Stress
This is easier said than done. Many of us would like to leave our jobs at the drop of a pin, but then, what about the family commitments? Stress is often referred to as the silent killer as its symptoms are insidious and can build up, till breaking point. Once you suffer a heart attack, it’s too late. Well we might be powerless to change our jobs but we are not powerless to reduce stress.
In addition to physical exercise, one can reduce their stress levels through Yoga (meditation techniques), exercise, sleeping more regularly and through other behavioural modification techniques. Try walking in the park during lunch, waking up early to jog or do qi-gong in the park or listening to calming music whilst in the car. If you are due to clear your annual leave, then take it! Don’t keep working because the work will never get done. Go and enjoy some quality time with the family and for pete’s sake, don’t bring your blackberry or laptop with you. All these techniques can help alleviate stress and keep you heart healthy for longer.