Heart is the key organ in a person’s body, that brings blood in by way of arteries and then pumps it back out to the rest of the body organs. When heart stops functioning or develops a disease, it prevents other body parts from receiving pure blood. This can cause many health problems and even death.
In fact, heart disease is the major cause of death in America, accounting for 34 percent of deaths, many suddenly and almost all of them premature. Heart disease may be a leading cause of death, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept it as your fate. If you take steps now, you can greatly improve your chances of not having a heart disease or a heart attack in near future.
Here are 14 simple ways to avoid heart diseases.
- Give importance to daily exercise: If you are actually serious about keeping your heart healthy, then make exercise a daily habit. Following a proper exercise routine is one of the secrets behind fit body. Apart from helping to control body weight, exercise also reduces your chances of developing health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes that may put a strain on your heart. Plus, regular physical exercise is also one of the best treatments for depression and anxiety. Exercise doesn’t have to mean working out on a treadmill. Find something you enjoy doing like gardening, cycling, biking, walking or golfing and do it with regularity to establish a routine.
- Stop smoking from today: If you have the habit of smoking, it’s time to quit smoking. Nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis can ultimately lead to a heart attack. You must also avoid secondhand smoke as exposure to secondhand smoke can cause serious health problems. According to a U.S. Surgeon General report, nonsmokers are up to 30 percent more likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer from secondhand smoke exposure at home or work.
- Control your weight: If you are overweight you are at a higher risk of having a heart attack. This happens as when there is excess fat in the body; plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart. Plaque can narrow or block the coronary arteries and reduce blood flow to the heart muscle that can cause a heart attack. This is why health experts suggest keeping a close eye on your weight. You can avoid weight gain by following a heart-healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise. If required you can talk to a dietitian about healthy ways to lose weight.
- Get plenty of sleep: In today’s hectic world, sleep is often neglected. It is very important for an adult to get about 8 hours of sleep per night. According to National Sleep Foundation, almost 60 percent of adults have problems sleeping, and only 37 percent get that recommended amount per night. Inadequate sleep has some poor effects on your blood pressure and heart. A Harvard University study has revealed that those who slept more than nine hours per night were 37 percent more likely to have heart trouble. So the key is to try and stay within that eight hour range to keep your heart healthy.
- Check your glucose level: According to the World Heart Federation, people who suffer from diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, compared with people who do not have diabetes. High blood sugar level causes irregular heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmia) which is often linked to heart failure and sudden cardiac death. Also high blood sugar level damages nerves and blood vessels, leading to heart disease and stroke. If you are a diabetic, then you need to control over glucose level. Tight control can prevent many complications from diabetes and will also protect your heart. Have your blood sugar level checked daily or every alternate day. Also take your medicines on time.
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure: Blood pressure or hypertension is a dangerous condition without any doubt. When you get your blood pressure checked and it falls under 120/80, then you’re doing fine. Anything between 120-139/80-89 is called pre-hypertension, and above this level is considered high. When you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work harder to push blood round your body. To cope with this extra effort, your heart becomes thicker and stiffer and become less efficient to do its work properly. This in turn can cause heart failure or heart attack. So, if you have high blood pressure, take your medicines daily, eat less fatty foods, cut your salt intake, stop smoking, exercise and limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Lower cholesterol level: Abnormal or high blood lipids (fats) are a major contributor to cardiovascular disease. Your blood lipids include the LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol) and triglycerides. For healthy heart, the LDL level should be lower and HDL level should be higher. When bad cholesterol is formed between arteries, it will block the blood which in turn pressurizes the heart ultimately leading to heart stroke. Both the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association recommend an LDL cholesterol level of less than 100 mg/dl.
- Tame your stress: Long-term stress causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure that may damage the artery walls. This can contribute to cardiovascular disease and, if severe, can cause a heart attack or sudden death. You can reduce stress with regular exercise, sound sleep, laughing, enjoying time with friends and famiy members. You can opt to learn stress management techniques from experts.
- Adopt a heart-healthy diet: Choose a healthy eating plan to avoid heart diseases including a heart attack. As part of a healthy diet, eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with fiber rich foods, cold water fish, nuts, legumes and seeds. Stay away from boxed and packed foods and try to eat foods that are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars and sweeteners. Also do not skip meals and instead of eating two to three large meals opt for small meals throughout the day. Also there are certain superfoods for heart that you must include in your diet plan.
- Undergo preventive screenings: Talk to your doctor about your diet, lifestyle and checking your blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, body mass index and waist circumference. Regular body check up will give you and your doctor a lot of information about how at risk you are for cardiovascular disease. These preventive tests do not take much and are basically painless.
- Know your family history: It is very essential to have some knowledge about health problems that your family members suffer from in the past. Having a relative with heart disease increases your risk, especially if the relative is a parent or sibling. That means you need to focus on risk factors you can control by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, not smoking and eating right. Also, keep your doctor informed about any heart problems you learn about in your family.
- Drink in limit: Drinking more than the recommended limits can have a harmful effect on the heart. Long-term heavy drinking can weaken the heart muscle and as a result the heart cannot pump enough blood to sufficiently nourish the organs. Due to this there can be severe damage to organs and tissues. It can even lead to heart failure.
- Have more sex: A good sex life is good for your heart. The researchers from the New England Research Institute in Massachusetts have found in a study that men who had sex at least twice a week were half as likely to die of heart disease as men who had sex rarely. Sex is a great way to raise your heart rate, and it also helps to keep your estrogen and testosterone levels in balance. It also helps to reduce stress.
- Maintain oral health: Oral health problems are bad for your heart. The breeding bacteria between your teeth can cause inflammation that taxes your vital organs, including your heart. In fact, a woman’s chance of having a heart attack may double if she has gum disease, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. So, keep to your mouth free of bacteria, brush your teeth twice daily and do not forget to floss.
These are some simple ways to avoid heart diseases. Incorporate these tips to enjoy a healthy heart for years.