Though heart attacks are common in the United States, there are various measures you can take to play your part to help prevent heart attacks. The central theme in preventing heart attacks is leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle. In fact, according to the Heart Organization, there are several lifestyle changes an individual can make to reduce the chance. These include but are not limited to:
- Stopping smoking – Smoking can cause blood clots which can partially or completely block blood flow. The damage nicotine can cause on the circulatory is extensive. Specifically, it greatly increases the chance of developing atherosclerosis which is a disease where there is an excessive amount of plaque build-up. Since heart attacks occur when the blood flow is blocked, typically by plaque, smoking increases the chances having of a heart attack occurring. What is important to keep in mind is that nicotine comes in all shapes and sizes. Recently, devices such as JUULs and Puffbars have become a popular alternative to smoking cigarettes. However, these devices still contain nicotine and other chemical substances that can affect the circulatory system and ultimately increase the chance of having a heart attack.
- Choosing good nutrition – A balanced diet is key to every healthy lifestyle. The food you consume plays a big factor in controlling risk factors of heart disease. The Heart Organization encourages choosing nutrient-rich foods — which have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories — over nutrient-poor foods. Further, choosing a diet that incorporates vegetables, whole grains, fruits, poultry, and nuts is vital. A balanced diet also limits intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats.
- Being physically active every day – This does not necessarily have to be vigorous exercises such as weightlifting or running. Low-intensity activities such as walking and yoga are also great for lowering the risk of having a heart disease.
- Aiming for a healthy weight – Obesity increases the chances of developing high blood pressure as well as diabetes which can lead to various cardiovascular diseases. Aiming for a healthy weight greatly helps with preventing a heart attack.
- Managing diabetes
- Reducing stress
- Limiting alcohol consumption – Drinking in excess can increase cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body. It can also cause high blood pressure and strokes. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one drink is 1-1/2 fl oz of 80-proof spirits, 5 fl oz of wine, and 12 fl oz of beer. Therefore, it is advised not to increase alcohol consumption and instead limit drinking to 1-2 drinks per day.
- Making sure you get enough sleep – Not getting the recommended hours of sleep can raise your risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. For individuals 18 and over, 7-8 hours of sleep each night is recommended by the Sleep Foundation Organization.
- Lowering high blood pressure – All of the listed changes also lower blood pressure. The ideal blood pressure to maintain is typically less than 120/80 mmHg, so being around this reading is optimal.
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This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.