Reducing the Risk of Heart Disease
A healthy heart is about enjoying a healthy lifestyle and making this a part of your everyday life. It is also about taking positive steps to reduce risk factors.
The best ways to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, and to help prevent it getting worse if it already exists is to reduce or remove the risk factors over which we have some control. Some of the steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing heart disease are outlined below.
1. Be Smoke-free
Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and damages the artery walls. Stopping smoking is the single most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease.
2. Enjoy Healthy Eating
Cholesterol and fat contribute to the deposits which build up in the artery walls and cause disease. You can help lower your blood cholesterol level and limit further artery clogging by reducing the amount of saturated fat you eat. Saturated fat is found in fatty meats, full cream dairy products, butter, two vegetable oils (coconut and palm oils), most fried takeaway foods and commercially baked products. Replace saturated fats with moderate amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as canola, olive, sunflower and soybean oils.
3. Be Physically Active
The body is designed to move, and regular, moderate physical activity is good for the heart. Being active is also a great way to have fun. Physical activity can also help control other risk factors such as high blood pressure and being overweight. The Heart Foundation recommends that people include 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking) on most, if not all days of the week, for health benefits. The amount of activity can be accumulated in shorter bouts, e.g. three 10-minute walks.
4. Control Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can strain your heart and speed up the process of coronary heart disease. Have regular blood pressure checks. If your blood pressure is high, reduce salt intake, limit alcohol to two drinks or less daily and follow your doctor’s advice. Long-term medication may be required to manage high blood pressure.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight and carrying too much weight around the waist are risk factors for coronary heart disease and diabetes. Healthy eating and being physically active assists weight loss.