Conditions

5 Best Heart Attack Prevention Tips

Every 40 seconds, someone in America experiences a heart attack. The unfortunate fact is that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47 percent of Americans are at high risk of getting heart diseases, having at least one of three key factors: high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and smoking.

Fortunately, like most known diseases, heart attacks and diseases are preventable. Without further ado, here are the five best tips that you can follow to reduce your risk of heart attack, courtesy of the U.K. National Health Service:

Follow A Healthy Diet 

An unhealthy, high-fat diet will cause fatty plaques to build up in your arteries, worsening their hardness (atherosclerosis). Together with high blood pressure caused by increased salt consumption, it increases your heart attack risk. This is because fatty food contains an unhealthy type of cholesterol in your blood. 

This type is called low-density lipoprotein (LDL), better known as "bad" cholesterol. Made mostly with fat and with only a token amount of protein, it blocks your arteries. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), by contrast, is made mostly with protein and has small amounts of fat. It reduces fat deposits in your arteries, giving it the name of "good" cholesterol. 

Related to cholesterol are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Because saturated fat increases LDL levels in your blood, food containing high levels of it must be avoided. Examples of food with saturated fat include butter and cheese, sausages and fatty meat cuts and food containing palm or coconut oil. 

As part of your diet, it is best to cut down on the amount of salt on your food since it can cause your blood pressure level to rise. Instead, increase your intake of low-fat, fiber-rich food, like wholegrain rice, bread, pasta, and loads of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are special because they contain vital vitamins and minerals that help keep your body healthy, so it is recommended that you eat five servings of each daily. Though optional depending on the diet you are following, oily fish with heart-healthy unsaturated fats such as sardines and salmon also add to a healthy diet.

When cooking, substitute cheese and butter with vegetable and plant-based oils such as olive and avocado oil.

Quit Smoking

Smoking increases your risk of heart attack because it not only causes atherosclerosis, but also results in increased heart pressure.

If you are willing and committed to quit smoking, find a general practitioner that should be able to prescribe treatment to help with the withdrawal symptoms that you may experience.

Limit Alcohol Intake 

Persistent hypertension, or high blood pressure, can take a toll on your arteries and heart, increasing your risk of heart attack. Fortunately, there are ways for you to reduce your risk of high blood pressure, and one of them is by limiting your intake of alcoholic drinks.

If you drink alcohol, it is best to avoid:

  • Drinking more than 14 units of alcohol weekly. (Note: In the U.K., alcohol units are used for expressing the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink. In other words, to tell you how strong an alcoholic beverage is 14 alcohol units is equivalent to 6 pints of average-strength beer, or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.)
  • Spreading your drinking over three or more days if you drink more than 14 alcohol units weekly. 

That is because regularly exceeding the recommended limits will raise your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

Also, it is best to avoid binge drinking, or excessive alcohol consumption, in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk since it can cause a sudden, large and potentially dangerous blood pressure increase. 

Weight Loss 

Being overweight also causes an increase in blood pressure because it forces your heart to work harder in order to pump blood around your body. To know whether or not your weight is healthy for your height, it is best to use a body mass index (BMI) calculator. If you need to lose weight, then remember that losing a few pounds can make a positive difference in both your blood pressure and your heart health.

Exercise 

Another way to lower heart attack risk is also a tried-and-proven one: being active and doing regular exercise. Aside from helping you lose weight, both will keep your heart and blood vessels in good condition, lowering your blood pressure level. It is recommended that you do low-impact exercises such as walking, cycling and swimming.

Heart Attack The number of heart disease complications such as heart attacks and strokes has decreased over the past decade. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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