Why would your dear old faithful heart get a heart disease, right? I feel as immortal as you do, trust me. But, my daily patients and recent statistics published by the American Heart Association, the CDC, and the NIH show that heart diseases represent the leading cause of death in the United States.
With a death toll of 375,000 people a year in the U.S. and causing 17.3 million deaths per year on a global level, heart disease is a problem which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Cardiovascular diseases don’t discriminate based on age, gender, or race and researchers all over the world are making incommensurable efforts to minimize their incidence. But there are at least 10 behaviors we can change to silence this merciless enemy.
According to medical specialists in the field, the best way to lower the risks of developing heart disease is getting the right information and implementing preventative lifestyle changes. Adults and children are vulnerable alike to coronary issues.
Therefore, we will further discuss the ten personal habits that can prevent heart disease for all age groups.
1. Quitting Smoking and Exposure to Second-Hand Smoking
Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoking represent health issues medical experts all over the world are trying to deal with. There is an enormous amount of research data linking smoking and second-hand exposure to coronary diseases and stroke, cancer and chronic lung and respiratory problems.
According to the NIH, quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to second-hand smoking can lower the risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke in just a few years.
2. Managing High Blood Pressure
Hypertension (known as High Blood Pressure) is considered a “silent killer” affecting over one billion people worldwide and around 33% of American adults. Unfortunately, the underlying causes of hypertension cannot be fully determined, and its symptoms are so discrete that they are overlooked by 14% of American adults. Measuring your blood pressure at home is one of the first steps you can take to prevent a coronary heart disease, because the higher the BP, the greater the health risks.
You need to take into account a pressure threshold of 115/70 mmHg to start worrying. The risk of developing heart disease, such as Dysmetabolic Syndrome X, doubles for each ten mmHg increase in systolic (the large number) and five mmHg increase in the diastolic (the small number). Investing in a high-quality arm BP measuring kit and learning to read it at home is a healthy and wise decision, especially if you have a family history of heart diseases or advanced age.
3. Keeping a Balanced Diet
A heart-healthy diet lowers your risks of developing coronary heart diseases, directly influencing your cholesterol levels (one of the most dangerous known associates of heart disease) and your blood pressure. A balanced diet for adults and children alike should focus on fruits and vegetables, whole grains rich in fiber, fish and fish oil, nuts, and seeds.
Of course, saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium should be avoided. Meat eaters should be careful to choose the leanest cuts possible, and all group ages should lower their sugar intake. If you have no idea where to start, here’s a marvelous suggestion.
4. Regular Physical Exercise
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the risk factors of heart diseases. Therefore, regular physical exercise should become a part of your daily lifestyle. Researchers recommend at least 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity exercise in adults or at least 1 ½ hours of intense workout every week. If you cannot follow this schedule, then 30 minutes of low-to-moderate physical activity and muscle strengthening exercises a day should keep you in shape. Children should benefit from at least 1 hour of physical activity every day.
5. Cholesterol Control
We all know we deal with good cholesterol and bad cholesterol (LDL) – the latter being responsible for clogging our arteries and leading to heart disease and stroke. Cholesterol control is usually achievable through diet and exercise, but they are not always enough.
A cholesterol screening is recommended for children and adults alike. If your blood tests positive for high LDL, you may need to follow a medication therapy to lower those levels. Ask your doctor to regularly perform a cholesterol screening and prescribe you the proper medication if necessary, but I highly recommend these nine wonderful ways to reduce those pestilent levels of stress.
6. Weight Maintenance
Given the fact that 69% of adults are either overweight or obese, weight control should be taken seriously especially since it is associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory problems and sleep disorders. To clinically lower the risk of heart disease, keep an eye on your Body Mass Index. The higher the BMI is, the higher the risks of developing one or more associated illnesses.
According to the AHA, maintaining a weight loss of 3-5% of your total body weight can significantly decrease your risk of high BP, type-2 diabetes, and high cholesterol.
7. Lowering Sugar Intake
Introducing fruits and vegetables in your diet is not enough to prevent heart diseases. Lowering your sugar intake, however, adds up to all the other preventative measures that make a healthy lifestyle. If you understand that the heart disease death rate in adults with diabetes are two to four times higher than in adults without diabetes, then you will understand that sugar intake is an issue that cannot be overlooked.
A sensible and smart diet, exercise, and weight loss are the first steps to take to prevent diabetes. However, diabetes tests and screening are mandatory – your doctor can catch early the diseases’ onset and help you keep it under control with the proper medication.
8. Keeping Stress at Bay
A few decades ago people considered stress to be a special type of illness. Today, it is a constant part of our lives and represents one of the many causes which lead to heart diseases in young people (30’ to 40’). Long-term stress usually translates into heart rate increases, BP increases, sleep and eating problems – which in turn may damage your artery walls.
Keeping stress at bay is not easy, but specialists recommend you master stress relieving methods (breathing exercises, meditation, self-development therapy) and engage on a daily basis in activities which make you feel good. Stress has devastating consequences on our bodies, minds and quality of life, so keeping it in control is the smartest lifestyle choice one can make.
9. Keeping Your Sleep Disorders in Check
Adults and children alike suffer from sleep apnea – a condition described commonly by snoring and choking during sleep. The pauses in breathing that occur in sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, irregular heart rate, stroke and heart diseases.
Don’t take your snoring complaints from your family lightly and go see a doctor to help you manage sleep disorders, especially if you are past 35 years of age.
10. Staying Informed About Heart Disease
Ignorance and misinformation probably killed more people than all types of cancer in the world. To preserve your heart health, keep yourself updated with reliable medical information offered by specialists in the field. Ask for a family anamnesis to understand your heritage and your risks, get annual blood tests and screenings and don’t disregard any health issues you might experience.
Understanding the prevalence of heart disease, knowing its signs and contributing factors and embracing a healthy, happy, tolerant lifestyle are some of the most important measures to take against the cruelest killer in the world.
So smile as often as you can, embrace the differences in others, keep curious, do a good deed, surprise someone today with a shower of generosity, make this second, this hour, this day count! Regret, worrying, holding on to the past and those heavy-on-your-heart regrets, don’t do a thing for you or your loved ones. Move on, learn from your mistakes, pick a healthy habit now and show strength by sticking to it. It’s not easy, but nothing important ever is in the beginning!
Good health and good luck, my friend!
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Author: Sameer Ather
Sameer Ather is an MD, PhD, cardiologist based in Birmingham, Alabama who’s currently doing an in-depth study on Dysmetabolic Syndrome X and other related heart issues. He founded XpertDox.com wishing to reach out and help as many people as technologically possible. His knowledge and compelling research results remain at your disposal.