One of the most precious and vital organs in the human body is the heart. A healthy heart is vital to a healthy body and healthy life. Unfortunately, heart health is commonly ignored and pushed aside. It’s not a priority for most people, with days packed start to end with tasks and activities to worry about. But this is a mistake.
With the right information and changes to your lifestyle, you can prevent cardiovascular disease and continue going about your life as normal. Here’s what you need to know.
Risk Factors of Cardiovascular Disease
You are more at risk for cardiovascular disease and endovascular procedures if you are:
- Over 65
- A smoker
- Suffering from high blood pressure
- Under high stress
- Suffering from high cholesterol
- From a family with a history of heart disease
- Excessively drinking
- Eating unhealthily
Risk Factors Vary According to Gender and Race
Men are more likely to have their first heart attack earlier in life than women. The average age women have their first heart attack is 70 years old; but men, on average, have their first at only 66. Women, however, are more likely to die after a heart attack due to being older at the time of the incident.
Race also plays a factor in the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, with African Americans having a greater risk of developing the disease than Caucasians. The risk is particularly greater in women.
The greater risk in African Americans for the development of cardiovascular disease may be due to genetic differences, as those with darker skin tend to be more sensitive to sodium and more likely to retain it.
Hispanic Americans may also be at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other heart related issues due to having higher rates of obesity and diabetes. However, it has been shown that Hispanics living in America are 25% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than Caucasians — possibly due to the lower smoking rate among Hispanics.
Ways to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
There are a few simple ways to prevent cardiovascular disease that can lead to a better lifestyle over all. If you pay attention to these key points, you will end up feeling more energetic and get more enjoyment out of life. Your body, family and friends will all thank you for it.
- Eat a Diet That’s Healthy
A heart-healthy, balanced diet is necessary to keep your body running at its peak. Make sure you’re getting the correct nutrients required for your body to function, including plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise Every Day
Daily exercise is ideal — especially exercise that raises your heart rate and contributes to your cardiovascular health. For best results, aim for at least twenty minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise at least three times per week.
- Limit Alcoholic Drinks
Enjoying the occasional alcoholic beverage is understandable and something you may enjoy, but you shouldn’t be drinking every day — or at all — if you can help it. Alcohol can not only damage your heart, but also drinking in excess is bad for your liver and can increase the risk of cancer, ulcers and more.
- Avoid Smoking
Smoking is detrimental for your health, especially when it comes to your heart and lungs. Smoking damages the lining of your arteries, causing narrowing of the arteries due to a build-up of a fatty material called atheroma. This can cause angina — or even a heart attack.
- Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure
Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is vital to heart health. High blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, can take years to develop and usually does so without symptoms. Some of the symptoms you may notice once your condition becomes life-threatening include headaches, nosebleeds and shortness of breath.
- Consider Your Weight
Being overweight brings a higher risk of diabetes. Both obesity and diabetes will increase your risk of heart disease, so make sure you’re eating only the amount of calories your body needs to function on a daily basis. This will vary depending on your height, weight, sex and age.
- Check Your Cholesterol Levels
A poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to high cholesterol, which leads to there being too much cholesterol in your blood. This can accumulate in the arteries and lead to cardiovascular disease. Make sure you keep track of your cholesterol levels and make the changes required to keep them under control.
- Keep Stress Levels Low
Being under high stress can put a lot of pressure on your heart, especially if the stress is likely to continue for some time. Consider yoga or meditation, rather than spending all your time worrying about others or things that are beyond your control.
Heart Attack Symptoms to Watch Out For
Chest pain or discomfort is the one of the most common signs of a heart attack. This pain will often spread down your left arm or even into your throat and jaw. You may feel dizzy or lightheaded, exhaust easily or feel nauseous. If you suspect you are having, or are at risk of having a heart attack, you should contact a medical professional immediately.