A healthy heart is vital for long-term health and happiness. Every year heart disease cuts lives short. While heart attacks often result in sudden death, heart disease is a chronic condition that can slowly debilitate an individual. A loss of mobility and independence is a major cause of depression and loneliness in the elderly population. People are literally suffering in silence, out of sight of the rest of society.
Heart disease is a major issue today. Although much research has been done to better understand its causes and how to treat it, it is still the leading cause of death in America, resulting in almost 600,000 deaths every year. Making some simple lifestyle changes and improving diet can go a long way to reducing the risk of developing heart disease and suffering a heart attack.
A healthy heart is perfectly natural. With regular exercise and a balanced and healthy diet you can avoid heart disease. Heart disease is a condition that mostly affects the more affluent societies. It is not a modern problem either; mummified remains from ancient Egypt indicated that some people suffered from heart disease. It is a problem of excess. So let us look at some simple, but effective, changes you should make to reduce your risk.
You may associate smoking with lung conditions, but smoking greatly increases your risk of heart disease too. Smoking makes you four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and six times more likely to suffer a heart attack.
Many years of smoking can cause your arteries to deteriorate and become thickened with fat and plaque deposits. This reduces blood flow and starts to put excessive pressure on the heart as the amount of oxygen that is passed through the arteries is reduced. This eventually leads to coronary heart disease. Therefore, the first step in building a healthier heart is to quit smoking.
Diet and heart health
The most important change you should make, after tackling tobacco and alcohol abuse, is an improvement in diet. There are many small changes that you can make, but the most important changes are to substitute high fat foods with low fat foods, reduce your salt intake and eat healthier food in general.
Fatty food has been linked with cardiovascular disease for a long time now, and although we are always hearing news reports that fat is not always unhealthy, the general rule is that less fat is good for health. Some of the healthiest people are vegans and vegetarians, and this is because they consume no red meat. In fact, of all the foods considered unhealthy, red meat is possibly the worse. Saturated fat in meat is blamed for heart disease, and red meat, which is beef, lamb and pork, along with processed meats, are all high in this type of bad fat.
Fat is essential in our diet to ensure that the body remains healthy. Fats from nuts, seeds, fish and olive oils are all healthy fats. These fats contain essential fats that are needed for a healthy nervous system and this is central to maintaining a healthy heart. Also, many good fats also contain the good cholesterol, which helps to reduce the negative effects of bad cholesterol. Even eggs, which for many years were considered unhealthy due to their high fat content, are now considered healthy, and certainly much healthier than any meat.
Natural oils are healthy too, especially those from olives and some nuts, such as pecans. Pecan oil has properties that help to naturally lower cholesterol. With National Pecan day approaching, now is a good time to discover the wonderful taste of pecans and learn how they can help contribute to a healthier lifestyle.
Many other foods should be included as a part of a low cholesterol diet. We should all strive to eat more fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts. Some recent research showed diets high in meat, eggs and dairy could be as harmful as smoking. Although these foods are safe in moderation, if your diet consists of a large proportion of them you will be putting your heart at risk. The solution is to take in more calories from fruits and vegetables, and less from meat and dairy.
There are some modern ways to improve heart health. One such product is the zetia drug, which is a possible way to lower cholesterol in the body, as part of an overall heart-healthy lifestyle. Many people buy zetia to help manage their cholesterol levels alongside a healthier diet.
Drink less alcohol
Alcohol is another major cause of heart disease. Heavy drinkers are far more likely to develop heart disease than moderate drinkers. Alcohol causes an increase in blood pressure and whenever blood pressure is raised there is increased risk of disease. Heavy drinking also weakens the heart muscles, which results in the heart pumping less efficiently. In serious cases of cardiomyopathy, the reduction in heart strength can cause sudden and fatal heart failure.
Some studies have reported that light drinking can be beneficial for the heart. A daily glass of red wine, or a single beer, appears to improve heart health in middle-aged people. However, the research is still being discussed, as health scientists are not convinced that any amount of alcohol is good for the heart. Reducing drinking is certainly essential to build a happier heart though.
A healthy heart is the result of a healthy and balanced diet, regular exercise and avoiding excess. Excessive drinking, smoking and eating the wrong kind of foods all raise your risk.