5 Steps to Lowering Heart Attack Risk
According to the Mayo Clinic, heart disease can be prevented by following a heart-healthy lifestyle. The following five steps can help lower your risk of heart attack.
1. Avoid Tobacco Products
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do if you're trying to avoid heart disease. Tobacco products are simply not safe. Though there are more than 4,800 chemicals in a cigarette (most of which can cause damage to the heart, lining of the heart, blood vessels and the arteries), the nicotine in cigarettes is essentially what causes the heart to beat faster, and over time causes narrowing of the blood vessels, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
Moderation is the key to healthy eating, even when it comes to fats. While you will want to eliminate some fats, you don't want to eliminate all fats. Removing saturated and trans fats from your diet is the first step to becoming heart healthy. Less than seven percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fats and less than one percent from trans fat. Avoid butter, shortening and margarine. Use monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil, and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts and seeds. Choose proteins that are composed of grass-fed, lean meats, heart-healthy fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, free-range organic eggs, and reduced or low-fat dairy products, such as cheese, milk, and yogurt. Add at least five servings of fruits and vegetables and whole wheat grains to your daily diet. Reduce salt and sugar intake, and regulate portion control. Take a multi-vitamin and make sure you get enough vitamin D. To get enough direct vitamin D from the sun, expose your face, arms and legs to the sun's ultraviolet rays for about 15 minutes per day. If you are unable to sunbathe, talk to your physician about taking a daily vitamin D capsule.
3. Lower Cholesterol
Get a cholesterol screening test after the age of 20 to use as a guideline, and have your cholesterol checked often, especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease. Lowering your weight is another way of getting your cholesterol to drop; eating more fiber and lean protein is another. As fiber passes through your digestive tract, it acts like a sponge and soaks up the excess cholesterol. Eat fish two or three times per week, or check with your physician about taking fish oil capsules.
4. Exercise and Maintain a Healthy Weight
Participate in a regular exercise program. Not only will exercise help you maintain a steady and healthy weight, it will rev up your energy and keep your organs in optimal health. The recommended amount of exercise is 30 to 60 minutes per day all at the same time or broken up into segments. The activity does not have to be strenuous, but it should be exercise that causes you to breathe harder than when simply walking.
5. Visit Your Doctor
Annual checkups are worth their weight in gold. Numerous issues are caught during regular checkups. This also gives you and your physician the chance to check and double check certain factors, such as cholesterol levels. If tests show that your cholesterol is normal, you may not need a recheck for several years, but when cholesterol is high or when you have a family history of high cholesterol, it's important that you have regular screenings. Even flossing your teeth on a regular basis has the ability to cut down on heart disease. The reason? A disease called chronic gum disease can lead to inflammation, which can lead to a variety of heart risks. Proper dental care can eliminate such worries.