We’re living in an era where cardiovascular diseases makes for the topmost killer with 17.7 million deaths each year, leading to 31% of all deaths globally. Among the cardiovascular diseases 4 out of all CVD deaths are because of heart attacks and strokes. Other health related conditions like overweight, obesity, hypertension, dyslipidaemia and diabetes predispose a person to an elevated risk of heart disease.
However, interesting thing to note is that the while the mortality rate from heart disease is high in developing and poorer countries, it’s on the fall in developed countries like US, France and Japan. What could be the reason of such a difference? It’s simple; awareness and steps taken to minimize the risk factors has led to such a development. Let’s take a look at some of the evidence-based methods that can protect your heart and reduce the overall risk of developing heart disease.
Methods to protect your heart against risk of heart disease
1. Get your feet moving
Literally! It’s time to get your feet moving. If dancing is for you, dance. If it’s running you love, run like the Flash. If you liked skipping rope in your childhood, get the habit back on. The whole idea is to stay active. With being active it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you would be spending hours in a gym or running. Be creative. Even adding physical activities into your daily routine can make a difference. Small measures like parking at the most distant parking spot, taking stairs instead of elevator, or walk to a distant location for lunch can easily be incorporated into your routine. At least two and a half hours of moderate physical activity per week will help in keeping your heart healthy. Add intense workouts to the same and you’ll reap the benefits to the maximum.
Increase in physical activity helps in improving your stamina, muscle strength, lowering blood pressure, keeping weight in check and improving cholesterol levels. Not only does physical activity protects your heart but also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, improves sleep, elevates mood, fight off depression, and improves bone density.
2. Give your liver a reason to cheer
Liver is one the most vital organs in the body handling a lot of metabolic activities including cholesterol metabolism. Although the term cholesterol might invoke a fear within a health-conscious person, cholesterols aren’t all bad and, in fact, have a purpose to fulfil. Cholesterols are synthesized in our body by the liver and have a vital role to play in the transportation and as building blocks for cell membranes and a few hormones. It is the imbalance between the levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) against levels of LDL and VLDL (the bad ones) which causes trouble. Excessive LDL deposits around artery walls in the form of plaque. This causes the arteries to narrow and lose their elasticity, making your heart work overtime to compensate, thus increasing risk of heart diseases.
Anyhow, the idea is simple cut down food with cholesterol. Switch to lean meat, avoid red meat, and choose low-fat diary products. Also, a major change that can help in fighting cholesterol levels is to switch your cooking oil. Find better alternatives like oil, avocado, canola oil. In fact, recently I learned about Fortune rice bran oil and when I dug more rice bran oil I came up with a study that claims that rice bran oil is quite effective in controlling cholesterol levels which may lead to reduced risk of heart diseases.
Regular workouts also help in controlling cholesterol levels. Moreover, if your cholesterol levels are imbalanced despite the precautions it’s time you consult a doctor who may give you cholesterol lowering medicines.
3. Keep the blood pressure in check
Hypertension i.e. increased blood pressure is a leading causative factor for heart disease. Even slight elevation in blood pressure puts one at a risk of cardiovascular diseases. Thus, it becomes important to keep the blood pressure in control. You must rely on a combination of several methods like regular exercising, weight control, alcohol and salt restriction, and healthy diet along with appropriate medications as prescribed by a doctor.
4. Have a tooth for sweets? It’s time to let go of them
It’s hard to cut down all the tasty foods from your diet. However, you must find alternatives, develop new taste. Sugar, or you can say high-carb diet, is not only a risk factor for a lot of health issues, but it also worsens the case of diabetes.
Now that we’ve mentioned diabetes, it is another risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. People with diabetes tend to develop heart disease if the blood sugar levels are not kept under check. Mortality rate among people with heart disease is higher by up to 2-4 times in those with diabetes. Besides making dietary (carb restricted) and lifestyle changes, regular medications for diabetes are a must.
5. HANDLE those love handles!
Love handles, tires, tummy, cellulite, whatever it is you’re troubled with, you have to do something about them. With current fast-paced life most people are becoming obese or overweight especially in developing countries. High BMI is linked to increased risk of heart diseases and diabetes. According to studies even modest weight loss of 5-10% has a significant impact over the risk of cardiovascular disease. Weight loss also helps in improving other related conditions like diabetes, hypertension or dyslipidaemia.
6. No, no, no smoking! Repeat after me!
If you’re a smoker it’s time to get rid of this nasty habit. Quitting smoking not only help in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke but also chronic respiratory disease and cancer. The results are quick and can be seen within a few years.
7. Do something about, well, your… diet
A healthy diet always goes a long way when you’re aspiring for a better health. We’ve already discussed a few points regarding a good diet to control cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar levels. You diet should include vegetables, fruits, whole grains along with other healthy food choices. Make healthier food choices like switching to healthier cooking oils, unpolished pulses etc. Avoid junk food, fried food, high carb diet, refined grain products etc.