Lifestyle changes are the first step towards prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. A few of the preventable measures to be adopted to protect ourselves against heart disease are discussed as follows:
- Smoking cessation
- Regular exercise or physical activity
- Healthy diet
- Maintaining healthy weight
Smoking cessation: Smoking tobacco is one of the major causes for heart disease. The smoke of tobacco contains more than 4,800 chemicals which can damage your heart and blood vessels, making them more vulnerable to atherosclerosis, commonly known as the narrowing of the arteries. Atherosclerosis can be the preliminary stage in heart disease, ultimately leading to a heart attack.
In addition, the nicotine in cigarette smoke makes your heart work harder by constricting blood vessels and increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces some of the oxygen in your blood. This increases your blood pressure by forcing your heart to work harder to supply enough oxygen.
Regular exercise and/or physical activity: Regular exercise and physical activity helps prevent heart disease by increasing the flow of blood to your heart and strengthening your heart’s contractions so that your heart pumps more blood with less effort. Moreover, exercise also can reduce your chances of developing other related conditions such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes that may put a strain on your heart. Exercise can also act as stress-busters, which may also be a factor in heart disease.
Healthy diet: Healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products can help protect your heart. Also, legumes, low-fat protein sources and certain kinds of fish can also reduce your risk of heart disease. Fruits and vegetables are considered highly effective in preventing cardiovascular disease.
You must refrain from intake of food rich in fat – saturated, polyunsaturated, mono-unsaturated and trans-fat. Saturated fat and trans- fat increase the risk of coronary artery disease by raising blood cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acid – a type of polyunsaturated fat, may protect against irregular heartbeats and lower blood pressure, thereby decreasing your risk of heart attack. Also limit alcohol intake as too much of alcohol may create health hazard.
Regular health check-up: Regular health check-up is a healthy way of keeping fit and protects you from heart disease. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your cardiovascular system, including your heart. Therefore it is necessary that you keep a regular track of your health and heart.