Heart disease or cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is the leading cause of death in many countries including the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, is caused by our daily habits of what we do and what we do not do. Thus, it is very much up to us to improve our habits and our lifestyle to reduce the risk of developing heart ailments and maintain a healthy heart.
Read on to learn how your everyday habits can lead to heart conditions and how you can take active steps to minimize your risk factors.
1. Eating habit
What you eat and in how much quantity has a direct impact on the health of your body’s blood pumping mechanism. According to the Framingham Heart Study, a longitudinal study that has helped scientists understand the development and progression of heart disease and its risk factors since 1948, the higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk for heart disease. Following a diet low in saturated fat reduces your cholesterol levels. One such diet program known as the Pritikin Program that focuses on unprocessed or minimally processed straight-from-nature foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, starchy vegetables, lean meat and seafood, has been found to be effective in preventing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity. It is important not just to eat the right stuff but also to watch the amount of your intake. It is common knowledge that obesity increases the risk of heart disease so maintaining a healthy weight is very important to achieving a healthy heart. Read more about this at the Healthbase website.
2. Drinking habit
Although research has revealed an association between moderate alcohol consumption and lower risk for coronary heart disease (CHD), experts believe that drinking more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day increases a person’s risk for high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. It should also be kept in mind that moderate drinking is not risk free. Alcohol consumption can lead to several other chronic illnesses like cancer, liver cirrhosis, and trauma.
3. Smoking habit
Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing several chronic disorders including fatty buildups in arteries called atherosclerosis, which is a leading cause of death from smoking. Many studies have shown that cigarette smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease, which leads to heart attack. Studies also show that cigarette smoking is an important risk factor for stroke. Women who take oral contraceptives and smoke increase their risk of stroke many times. Smoking also creates a higher risk for peripheral arterial disease and aortic aneurysm. Also, about 22,700 to 69,600 premature deaths from heart and blood vessel disease are caused by other people’s smoke each year. So, by smoking you harm not only yourself but also your innocent neighbors.
4. Exercising habit
A sedentary lifestyle with complete physical inactivity is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke and is linked to cardiovascular mortality. Regular physical activity helps control blood lipid abnormalities, diabetes and obesity. Aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, jogging, skipping rope, bicycling and dancing can help reduce blood pressure and are good for your heart when done regularly for 30 minutes or longer every day or on most days. Even moderately intense physical activity such as walking for pleasure, gardening and yard work are beneficial for the heart when done regularly on a daily basis.
5. Behavioral habit
Anger and uncontrolled stress can lead to high blood pressure which in turn increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke. Anger and stress management techniques can be helpful in reducing your stress level and, therefore, your risk factor for heart disease. Some examples of reducing your stress level are practicing yoga, meditation and laughter therapy.
Prevention is much better and much less expensive than cure. Cardiac treatments like CABG (coronary artery bypass graft), cardiac valve repair, cardiac valve replacement, bypass surgery, double bypass surgery, triple bypass surgery, quadruple bypass surgery, heart transplant, and so on can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It takes discipline and perseverance to incorporate changes into your daily habits but it is not impossible to do so. So talk to your physician today about how to change your habits and your lifestyle for a healthier heart.