Heart disease is a major cause of death among individuals in the United States. It is one of the leading ailments affecting people, most of them being individuals who are in their middle age and relatively young. There are a number of factors that lead to heart disease, such as heredity, gender, age (over 55 in women), reaching menopause (for women), suffering from preeclampsia during pregnancy, and to a certain extent, genetic makeup. All of these factors are beyond the control of humans. However, there are many lifestyle choices and behavior that lead to diseases of the heart that are within human control and can easily be avoided to prevent heart disease.
Factors that increase risk of heart disease
The behavioral and lifestyle choices that increase the risk of heart diseases include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Not being active physically
- Having a diet that is unhealthy and one that might increase the cholesterol levels in the body
- Suffering from high levels of blood cholesterol, where the LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels are high and the HDL or the “good cholesterol” levels are low
- Suffering from high blood pressure or hypotension
- Suffering from high levels of blood sugar or having uncontrolled diabetes
- Suffering from uncontrollable anger and high levels of stress
- Consuming high levels of alcohol and tobacco
Individual choices and behaviors that will reduce the risk of heart disease
- Quit smoking and drinking alcohol
Smoking is one of the primary factors that lead to heart disease, and thus individuals must make conscious efforts to quit smoking or encourage family members to quit the habit. The task may seem difficult to achieve, but it is worth it to avoid suffering a stroke or chronic heart ailments. Alcohol must be used moderately, as excessive drinking leads to weight gain and also endangers the health of the heart.
- Opt for a healthy, nutritious diet
The diet is one of the best shields against cardiovascular disease. The food we eat along with the amount consumed has a deep-rooted effect on the body and it also affects the other risk factors which may increase the chances of heart disease such as diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, hypertension, weight gain, and obesity. The diet has a direct effect on these health factors, which in turn affect the health of the heart.
The diet can be enlivened by adding a lot of fruits and vegetables to it. Additionally, adding legumes, whole grains, dairy products that are low fat, nuts, fish, poultry, vegetable oils that are not tropical, beans, etc. helps provide proteins and other nutritional elements into the diet. Ideally, the diet should be high in nutritional values consisting of minerals, vitamins, fiber, protein, and less fat. Foods to avoid are those that are high in sugar and salt, calorie laden, red meat, sweetened drinks, processed foods, and carbohydrates that are digested rapidly, such as white rice, white bread, potatoes, etc.
- Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active
Being overweight puts more stress on the arteries and the heart. So, by losing weight the pressure on the heart is less. Maintaining a healthy weight also highlights the importance of being physically active, which reduces the risk of cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and thus heart disease. Exercise also reduces stress, high levels of which could lead to heart disease.
These basic things subsequently help reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the body, maintain sugar levels, and reduce blood pressure, all of which need to be done to prevent heart disease.
Thus, heart disease can be prevented by making changes in lifestyle and diet and being motivated enough to stick to the goals.