How to prevent heart attacks?
Prevent a heart attack is in our hands
The most effective way to prevent a heart attack is making changes in our lifestyle. There are three main steps you can consider to prevent it: Eat a healthy balanced diet, avoid smoking and try to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
DIET TO PREVENT HEART ATTACKS
We increase our risk to have a heart attack if we are eating an unhealthy diet. A high fat diet makes your atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) worse. Eating continuously food high in fat will accumulate fat in our arteries. This is because that fatty food has cholesterol. There are two main types of cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – It is mainly composed of fat, plus a small amount of protein. This type of cholesterol can clog arteries so it is often referred to as “bad cholesterol”.
- High density lipoprotein (HDL) – It is composed mainly of protein and a small amount of fat. This type of cholesterol can reduce deposits in the arteries so it is often referred to as “good cholesterol”.
There are also two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Avoid foods that contain high levels of saturated fats because they increase levels of bad cholesterol in the blood.
Foods highest in saturated fat:
- Meat cakes
- Sausages and fatty cuts of meat
- Ghee (butter kind often used in Indian cooking)
- Hard cheese
- Cakes and cookies
- Foods containing coconut or palm oil
Eating a small amount of unsaturated fat increases the level of good cholesterol, reduce any blockage in your arteries and helps prevent heart attacks. Foods high in unsaturated fats include:
- Blue fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive oill
STOP SMOKING TO PREVENT HEART ATTACKS
Smoking is a major risk factor for heart attacks because it causes atherosclerosis and increases blood pressure. If you decide to quit smoking, among other things to prevent a heart attack, your doctor will provide dedicated support and advice on the best ways to quit smoking and will prescribe medical treatment to help with withdrawal symptoms you may experience.
Persistent high blood pressure can put your arteries and heart under additional pressure, increasing their risk of heart attack. High blood pressure can often be reduced with a healthy diet, moderation alcohol drinking, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly. They are simple habits that will help us to prevent a heart attack.
The previous dietary advice also applies if you have high blood pressure. In addition, reducing the amount of salt in our food can help us a lot because salt increases blood pressure. The more salt you eat, the higher blood pressure. You should try to eat less than 6 g (0.2 ounces) of salt a day, which is about one teaspoon.
Eating a low-fat diet which includes fibre, like brown rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruits and vegetables, help to have a lower blood pressure. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre and help to keep the body in good condition. We should try to eat five pieces of 80-grams fruit and vegetables every day to improve our health condition and prevent a heart attack.
REDUCE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION TO PREVENT A HEART ATTACK
Drinking alcohol above the recommended limits can increase your blood pressure. Therefore, stay within recommended levels is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure. In addition, alcohol is high in calories, so you will gain weight if you drink regularly. Excess weight also increases your blood pressure. Find out how many calories are in the drinks you take.
LOSING WEIGHT TO PREVENT A HEART ATTACK
Being overweight forces our heart to work harder to pump blood through the body and it can raise our blood pressure. Find out if you need to lose weight with BMI healthy weight calculator.
If you need to lose some weight, it is worth remembering that only lose a few kilos will make a big difference in blood pressure and health.
Staying active and exercising regularly will reduce your blood pressure and keep the heart and blood vessels in good condition. Regular exercise can also help us to lose weight, which will reduce our blood pressure. Low-impact activities are recommended, such as walking, swimming and cycling. The most vigorous activities, like playing soccer and squash, cannot be recommended. Check with your doctor who will recommend your ideal activity.
Changing habits can be difficult at first. However, many studies say that only few days are needed to get into a healthy routine, so the most important thing is not to abandon our change during the first days. We can do it!