Heart attacks are a leading cause of death in the west. Obesity, stress and a lack of exercise, all associated with the developed world, are key causes of heart attack. Genetics also play a part, but in most cases, lifestyle changes can greatly reduce an individual’s heart disease risk.
1. Quit smoking
2. Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity both directly and indirectly contributes to heart attack risk. Being overweight can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes. Carrying excess weight can also put the heart under undue stress on a daily basis and increases the chances that you’ll need a defibrillator some time soon.
3. Reduce stress
Stress is a significant and often overlooked factor in heart disease risk. Mild exercise, meditation or yoga can help, as can taking a brief period each day to relax and unwind. Don’t forget to enjoy life and to laugh on a regular basis.
4. Reduce blood pressure
Hypertension, caused to some extent by other risk factors (lack of exercise, obesity, poor diet, stress), is in itself a risk factor. Have your blood pressure checked regularly and take any medication that’s prescribed to lower your blood pressure.
5. Get some exercise
Exercise reduces heart disease risk by improving cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, burning fat and increasing the function of the heart. Mild exercise is adequate to significantly reduce an individual’s risk.
6. Reduce cholesterol
Exercise, reducing alcohol consumption, replacing unhealthy fats with healthier fish and vegetable oils and in extreme cases medication, can all reduce total cholesterol levels and improve the balance between good and bad cholesterol.
7. Eat healthy
A healthy diet can improve an individual’s heart disease risk in a number of ways. Lower weight, reduced cholesterol and improved blood pressure are just some of the indirect benefits of a diet low in bad fats, salt and processed food. Increasing your intake of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats such as those found in fish can help, as can eating more fresh vegetables and fruit.
8. Control existing diseases
Underlying diseases such as diabetes can lead to increased heart attack risk, particularly if untreated. Prescribed management and medications should be followed.
9. Live a balanced and happy lifestyle
The support of family, laughing regularly, managing anger and hostility and living a balanced life are just some of the other ways to improve your overall health.
10. Consider Aspirin
If you are particularly worried about your risk of heart disease, speak to your doctor about taking aspirin. Aspirin reduces the thickness of the blood and is effective in reducing heart disease in some individuals.
Despite major advances in medicine, there is a high risk of death following a heart attack and no guarantee that there will be a defibrillator around. The best cure is still prevention and simple changes to your lifestyle can greatly reduce the risk of heart attacks.
A. Mathews writes regularly on health and exercise related topics for a range of medical websites. She has a PhD in exercise physiology and works in health related research. For further information on purchasing a defibrillator visit this page .