Heart disease ranks first among the top causes of death in developed countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. While treatments are available for health conditions related to the heart, they’re not a guarantee to prevent sudden, unexpected deaths due to heart failure.
Sudden Cardiac Death occurs when there’s an abrupt change in the heart’s rhythm. This is also called cardiac arrest and constitutes 50 percent of all deaths caused by heart diseases. SCD is only one type of heart disease. Other diseases in the heart include congenital heart disease, arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, dilated cardiomyopathy, myocardial infarction, congested heart failure, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, mitral regurgitation, mitral valve prolapse, and pulmonary stenosis.
Some of these diseases are genetic and already in an individual’s biological makeup before they were born. Patients have to live with the condition throughout their lifetime unless there’s an available treatment for the disease.
For the other types, lifestyle choices contribute largely to a person’s risk of developing heart diseases. This means you’re less likely to suffer from heart disease when you protect your heart earlier in life onwards.
Another risk factor for heart disease you have no control over is age. As you age, your risks of heart disease increase. But then again, if you follow a healthy lifestyle, your heart would be ticking well and good until your golden years and beyond. Protect your heart and follow the suggestions below.
1. Eat heart-friendly foods
The right foods will keep your heart functioning well while the wrong ones double your risk for heart diseases. Heart friendly foods improve circulation and provide nutrients for the heart. The following are the best for your heart:
- Fish rich in omega 3 like mackerel, salmon, tuna, and herring.
- Healthy nuts such as almonds and walnuts.
- Fiber-rich berries including blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, and strawberries.
- Fruits high in beta-carotene like papaya, cantaloupes, and oranges
- Colored veggies. The best are carrots, sweet potatoes, and red peppers.
- Kidney beans and black beans.
- Red wine
- Dark chocolates
- Whole grains
2. Avoid foods that are harmful to the heart
Foods high in fats, sugar, and salt content increase your risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Since eliminating these foods from your diet isn’t that easy, you can reduce the portions until you’re able to completely reduce your cravings. As much as possible, avoid these foods:
- Bacon, which is high in saturated fats
- Red meat like beef and pork, which contains loads of saturated fats
- Processed meat such as hotdogs, salami, and sausage
- Soda and other sweetened beverages
- Baked goodies like muffins and cakes
- Rice, bread, and pasta, which are made from white flour
- Sodium filled pizza
- French fries that are not only loaded with sodium but also with fats
- Fried chicken
3. Take regular exercise
Exercise works wonders for the heart, the mind, and your overall well-being. The benefits of exercise are endless, your heart will thank you for it.
Aerobic exercises like brisk walking and jogging for at least 30 minutes a day can boost your heart health. Alternating your exercises is the best way to avoid boredom. Schedule days for aerobics, vigorous workouts, and mindfulness exercises, which include yoga and Pilates. These help move all your muscle groups and not only make you healthy but fit as well.
4. Don’t smoke
Smoke from nicotine poses serious health risks for your heart. It causes damage to your heart’s linings, which leads to fat build-up and narrowing of the artery. Smoke also affects proper blood flow by reducing the amount of oxygen in the blood.
If you don’t smoke but often expose yourself to smokers, you’re more at risk of heart diseases. Second-hand smoke poses more health hazards than firsthand smoke. Protect your heart by evading smoke designated areas.
5. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle
As you get older, your activities are being reduced. You no longer go out with friends more often, unlike in your younger years when you have an unlimited list of activities together.
If you have a family, you can still do a lot of activities at home to avoid watching too much TV. You can play with your kids, help your wife with household chores, walk the dog or plant a garden. Doing activities with your family is another fun way to bond and stay healthy at the same time.
6. Check your family’s history
A disease that runs in the family is one risk factor for you to acquire the same. Inquire if your siblings, parents or relatives have heart issues to increase your alertness for possible symptoms and give more focus on your health and lifestyle choices.
7. Manage your stress
Stress is starting to become a normal part of modern living. The sad news is, when you’re unable to manage stress, it can take its toll on your health. Prolonged stress is linked to serious diseases including heart problems. You can manage stress in a lot of ways.
Spending more time in nature, having quality time with family, taking breaks, practicing mindfulness, and doing something that you love are some of the best options to curb your stress levels.
8. Maintain a healthy weight
If you’ve been active since your younger years, weight management could never be a problem. But if it has not been a priority, giving more attention to your weight as you age is of utmost importance.
Health experts present a strong link between obesity and heart problems. When you’re obese, your fat deposits may clog up the arteries and block oxygen flow. High levels of bad cholesterol also reduce the levels of good cholesterol, which is essential in removing the bad cholesterol in the body.
Obesity can also result in high blood pressure and diabetes, two of the serious diseases that affect circulation and are likely to lead to heart diseases and heart attacks. Shed extra pounds through exercise and a healthy diet.
9. Limit alcohol consumption
Prolonged excessive drinking of alcohol is also another risk factor for heart diseases. Alcohol can damage your heart in a lot of ways. It can raise the levels of triglycerides in the blood and increase blood pressure and calorie intake. The effect is like that of domino, one bad thing leading to other bad things until your heart will become damaged.
However, alcohol intake isn’t always bad for the heart as long as you keep to minimal. A glass of red wine a day is good for your heart since it boosts proper circulation.
A healthy heart paves the way to longevity. By following the helpful tips above, you’d be living your golden years more comfortably. Some healthy individuals even reached up to the age of one hundred and over. Becoming a centenarian depends largely on how you take care of your heart and overall health.