Heart disease is the most common health condition in the US and the leading cause of death for both men and women, killing over 375,000 people a year.
There are many different types of heart disease but the most common one is coronary artery disease which is caused by narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscles. It is a major risk factor for heart attack. Fortunately, heart disease is also among the most preventable.
Although certain risk factors, such as age and family history, cannot be changed, there are other risk factors that can be controlled through lifestyle changes. Here are six easy ways to prevent heart disease.
1. Be Physical Active
Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent heart disease. Regular exercise helps make your heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in your arteries. Try to participate in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least 150 minutes per week, or vigorous aerobic exercise for 75 minutes per week. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, running, or swimming, is any exercise in which your heart beats faster and you use more oxygen than usual. The more active you are, the more you will benefit.
2. Eat a Healthy Balanced Diet
A healthy, balanced diet involves eating a wide variety of foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grain, lean meats, nuts, seeds, etc. Also, limit the consumption of sodium (salt), added sugars, saturated and trans fats.
Your doctor may recommend the heart-healthy Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan because it has been proven to lower high blood pressure and LDL cholesterol in the blood.
3. Control your Weight
Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease, so it’s important to control your weight. You can achieve it through a proper diet and regular physical activity.
Healthy weight status in adults is usually assessed by using weight and height to compute a number called “Body Mass Index” (BMI). BMI indicates the amount of body fat. An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is overweight and normal weight is a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. You can check your BMI using a BMI calculator here.
4. Don’t Smoke
Never smoking is one of the best things a person can do to prevent heart disease. Nicotine in tobacco smoke may causes the blood pressure to increase and make the blood clot easily. Carbon monoxide steal the blood oxygen and lead to the development of cholesterol stored in artery walls. All of these increase the risk of heart attack.
5. Limit Alcohol Consumption
Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and your risk for heart attack. If you drink, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.
According to a review of 15 studies, the less you drink, the lower your blood pressure will drop—to a point. “High levels of alcohol are clearly detrimental,” says Eva Obarzanek, PhD, a research nutritionist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “But moderate alcohol is protective of the heart. If you are going to drink, drink moderately.”
6. Manage Stress
Stress can also contribute to high blood pressure and, if severe, can cause a heart attack or sudden death. When you’re chronically stressed, your body is in a constant fight-or-flight mode. On a physical level, that means a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels. So, it’s important to manage your stress levels. Learn more about how to relieve stress.