The saying goes that “prevention is better than cure” and that cannot be truer for South Africans with Heart Disease listed as the 4th leading cause of Death in the country. One of the biggest contributors to heart disease is Lifestyle Choices. Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle can be your best defence against a heart attack and other heart diseases. Lifestyle changes can always be difficult, however, applying a few changes can drastically lower your risk of a Heart Attack.
Are you living a heart-healthy lifestyle? Here are some tips:
1. Stop Smoking
The first medical reports linking smoking to lung cancer go back as far as the 1920s, however, Newspaper did not publish any articles as the tobacco companies were advertising heavily in the media. By the 1950s and 60s, it was confirmed that tobacco and cigarettes caused a range of serious diseases.
So we have known for decades that cigarettes have a negative effect on our health, but why is it such a difficult habit to break? Although quitting is hard, the positive health effects lower your risk of developing heart disease.
2. Choose good nutrition
A healthy diet can drastically improve your fight against Heart Disease. The food you eat and the amount of food you eat affects other controllable risk factors such as; cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
Choose nutrient-rich foods and ditch fast food and ready-made meals (which are usually high in salt content) Some examples of highly nutritious foods include; legumes, fish, nuts, low-fat dairy products and whole grains.
3. Lower your cholesterol
Fat lodged in your arteries can be seriously fatal. Lower your cholesterol by reducing your intake of saturated fats and trans fats and by moving! Get the heart pumping by being physically active. If your cholesterol numbers don’t decrease with an improved diet and activity alone, it is recommended to use medication to manage the levels safely.
4. Blood pressure
If you are a smoker, you are increasing your blood pressure adding pressure to your heart. Be gentle with your salt intake and once again, get active! An optimal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80mmHg
5. Be physically active
We have mentioned physical activity over and over again in this article, and the reason for this is that it is the most important lifestyle change you can do to lower your risk of a Heart Attack or developing other serious Heart conditions. Research has shown time and time again that being physically active helps lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level. If you are inactive, the time to start is NOW and the smallest steps can make the biggest impact. Something as easy as taking your dog for a walk daily can lower your risk.
6. Aim for a healthy weight
Managing a healthy weight can be challenging when your lifestyle consists of working long hours, having that 4th cup of coffee at the office instead of lunch and quick ready-made or fast food for dinner. Aiming for a healthy weight can be achieved through good nutrition, controlling your calorie intake and physical activity.
Being overweight can have a negative effect on your cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance (Diabetes) All of these factors increase your chance of heart disease.
Our advice to those who are concerned about their heart health is to take some time to look for nutritious food options, ditch the high-salt and fast-food meals, exercise regularly and listen to what your body is saying to you.