Cardiovascular disease or CVD, including stroke and heart attack affects heart and blood vessels are a leading global killer. Bad heart health can lead to health impairments from losing body functions to mental disturbances that can adversely affect your quality of life. Almost all of us are familiar with all warnings with smoking, drinking alcohol and eating junk food so that we keep ourselves healthy.
According to the WHO, top ways to reduce risk of developing cardiovascular disease include making healthy food choices, reducing smoke inhibition, be physically active, control blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce your body mass index. Whereas NICE in the UK recommends using active methods of transportation such as walking, reducing salt and fat in foods and stressful living environments. CDC in the US recommends for regular healthy checkups.
Here’s presenting five things you can do to keep your heart healthy:
Annual check-ups and family history
According to studies that took a single snapshot of a sample of population in India, Australia, Sweden, Nigeria and Japan, only 50% of people went for health checkups. A correlation has been observed between an awareness of regular health checkups and development of strokes since people having regular checkups tend to have greater health awareness and hence keep themselves healthy. However, such awareness is still low despite the heart disease being a big killer and this limits people about knowing any family history indicating problems later on.
Eat healthy foods and limit alcohol
Diets are complex in human societies with different foods showing to increase or reduce the risk of CVD. Mediterranean diet has been promoted since 1990s due to its key components such as plant-based foods like legumes and nuts, fruits and vegetables and whole grains, using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods, replacing the butter with healthy fats like olive oils, substituting fish and poultry at least twice a week by limiting red meat to no more than few times a month. Additionally, it also promotes drinking red wine in moderation. However, this diet is based on the Western food and ingredients. While from an eastern perspective, Paleolithic diet is characterized by few carbohydrates, more protein and meat, and more non-starchy vegetables with high fibers, excluding the grains, legumes, dairy products, refined sugar, processed oil, coffee, salt and alcohol.
Keep cleaner and quieter environments
For decades we have known how harmful smoking and second hand smoke can be for heart health. Already there have been bans on smoking in public spaces and on advertising tobacco products in most countries that has reduced the hospital admissions. Residing in adverse neighborhood conditions such as traffic, quality of air and water, noise and rubbish, and stress factors like discrimination, violence and harassment has also been linked to greater prevalence of CVD. According to a recent study in the UK, adolescents who were dissatisfied with their neighborhood were more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors and lifestyle.
Further room temperature, heating use and chemical could also play a role in heart health. Deprived sleep can affect the blood pressure and the micro vascular function which could consequently increase the cardiovascular risk. Poor workplace that triggers stress and violence could also increase the risk of developing CVD symptoms especially in women.
Exercise and use public transport
Obesity is a strong risk factor for CVD which a chronic disease that has been growing alarmingly in every country. Many scientific researches have shown how physical activity could help lessen the risk of CVD. Indian and British researchers have recently documented how active travel such as biking, walking, or using public transport could help reduce CVD risk.
Avoid artificial products with chemicals
The environmental chemicals that could disrupt the energy metabolism and hormones have also been linked to CVD risk. We come into contact with these chemical on a daily basis from multiple sources such as containers, bottles, canned foods, cans and plastic products. The use of green space has found to benefit the heart health in countries such as New Zealand, Canada, Lithuania and Denmark. Exposure to natural environments such as exposure to a certain amount of sunlight could increase Vitamin D which is essential for heart health. This is not only associated with metabolic function but also good sleep patterns that has an impact on CVD risk.
Managing heart health is a lifelong effort hence to keep your heart healthy, ignore the strong potential risk factors and start thinking about early prevention.
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