Top 10 Steps to Lower Risk of Heart Disease
The heart is a muscle that
pumps blood and its essential cargo of oxygen and nutrients around the body.
muscles, it needs
oxygen to work properly. Its supply comes in via the two powerful
arteries that network deep into the heart muscle. When something goes
wrong with this supply, the condition is life threatening.
The term heart disease covers many conditions, including
abnormal heart structure, valve defects and defects with the " pacemaker", which triggers a regular heartbeat. However, the biggest
killer of the western world is
- the build up of fatty sludge in
the coronary arteries. This sludge, called atheroma, consists of
cholesterol, proteins and tissue debris. It gradually narrows the arteries
and restricts the vital supply of oxygen - rich blood to the heart. It
also reduces the flexibility of the arteries, which can increase blood pressure
and crack the normally smooth surface of the artery wall. Cracks create
dangerous blood clots, which can block the artery completely.
A variety of risk factors bring about atherosclerosis.
The mixture of narrowed vessels,
high blood pressure and blood clots is known as
coronary artery disease. It sets the scene for pain and heart attack.
Check out, What YOU can do to lower the risk for heart disease.
LOWERING YOUR RISK OF HEART DISEASE
What to do :
exercise increases beneficial
lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which protects against atherosclerosis.
It also increases heart efficiency, lowers blood pressure, helps control
body weight, balances blood clotting factors and reduce
Take 15 minutes of moderate exercise (gardening, housework,
brisk walking, dancing or
swimming ) twice day five days a week.
Moderate exercise should make you sweat slightly and breathe more heavily
Improve your diet :
Low-fat diets promote a good balance of blood fats and help
maintain a healthy weight.
saturated fat such as butter with low or
fats. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Reduce salt.
Maintain a healthy weight
Guard against developing
diabetes, high blood pressure and
high - risk, centrally-located fat. Weight around the abdomen strains
the heart the most.
healthy diet with regular exercise. Involve
the whole family if possible and seek support to
This is the most important modifiable risk factor.
Smokers under 50 years of age are twice as likely to die of a heart attack
as nonsmokers. Smoking increases adrenalin and
heart rate, raises
blood pressure, reduces body's oxygen- arrying capacity and encourages
( blood clotting
Use nicotine patches, gum, acupuncture, meditation and
psychological approaches or willpower to quit. Ask your doctor for
help and seek advice from friends or relatives who are former smokers.
The more you smoke and the more years you smoke, the greater the likelihood
of dying from a heart attack.
Lower your blood pressure
Up to 20 percent of adults have
high blood pressure.
It strains the heart and encourages hardening of the arteries, which raises
pressure further. It runs in families but is also a product of
Reduce your weight, cut back on fatty foods and salt, stop
smoking, drink alcohol moderately and lower your stress levels. If
lifestyle changes are not successful, long-term drug treatment may be
Drink alcohol sensibly
Research suggests moderate drinkers have less risk of heart
disease than teetotalers or excessive drinkers.
drinking is defined as four units of alcohol a day
for men and three for women. A unit equals half a pint of
beer, a glass of wine or one measure of spirits.
A little stress keeps you alert and motivated but prolonged
high levels raise adrenalin levels, heart rate and blood pressure.
Stress does not cause heart disease but can be a trigger if arteries are
Learn to lower stress levels using techniques such as
meditation. Prevent too much stress by planning work,
setting realistic goals and sharing burdens such as childcare and housework.
Diabetes doubles the risk of heart attack and stroke,
possibly because it is linked with weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood
pressure and poor circulation.
Adhering to a pattern of regular healthy eating and a
positive lifestyle strategy can significantly reduce the risk of heart
disease and other conditions if you have diabetes.
A combination of exertion and excitement can bring on
angina, but sex also releases stress and is good exercise.
If you can walk up and down 13 steps without chest pain,
is unlikely to be harmful, but first take any drug prescribed.
Go ahead and celebrate
day getting together with your kids, family members or friends. Plan a
heart-healthy menu for that day including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks,
choosing at least one physical activity that lasts 30 minutes or three
activities that last ten minutes each, and talking about things you're doing as
a family to help keep hearts healthy.
Last of all,
take out time to attend cardiopulmonary
resuscitation (CPR) training. To find a class near you,
Dated 19 February 2013