How To Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease

Posted by on September 9, 2008 at 9:39 pm

Here is your 10-Step Guide to Preventing Heart Disease

These steps guarantee to reduce your risk of heart disease; all you need to do is follow them:

1. You Are What You Eat:

Eat less fat particularly trans-fatty acids, commonly found in processed foods, fast food, and animal fats. Some half of all dietary energy intake should be from [mostly complex] carbohydrates, another 30% from mainly mono- or poly-unsaturated fats (such as in vegetable oils), and a further 20% from protein such as lean meats, legumes and cheese. Eat a better balance of omega-3 to omega-6 oils, by having two servings of fish per week and adding a small amount of flaxseed (oil) to your diet. Eliminate sources of ’empty’ calories such as sodas.

2. Do Not Smoke:

I can not emphasize this enough. Not everyone who smokes will get heart disease, but as sure as the sun rises every morning, cigarette smoking increases atherosclerosis and causes coronary artery spasm, as well as raising your blood pressure.

3. Half Hour Every Day:

Exercise for 30 to 40 minutes a day to a point where you are just able to carry on a conversation. Of course, if you have not been exercising for some time, you will need to start slower and build up. You can start by going for a ten-minute slow walk.

4. Check Your Cholesterol:

Check fasting blood cholesterol levels aiming for a TC (Total Cholesterol) of < 1.5 mmol/L, and LDL cholesterol of around 1.0 mmol/L. If these levels remain high after changes to your diet and exercise, seek advice from your physician and consider one of the Statin medications (e.g. Lipitor, Zocor).

5. Maintain A Healthy Weight:

Aim for a healthy weight range. Your BMI (Body Mass Index) should be between 20 – 27. Also check your waist/hip circumference ratio – central (abdominal) obesity is a better predictor of heart disease (and probably other diseases such as colon cancer) than BMI.

6. Maintain A Healthy Blood Pressure:

Aim for a blood pressure between 120-135/ 70-80. A little bit of salt in the diet is OK, but no added salt should be necessary for most foods. Watch your weight, as every extra kilogram adds to your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is persistently high, your doctor may consider medication to control it.

7. To take or not to take Aspirin? – that is the question:

If you have high cholesterol or a strong family history of heart disease, and you are over 40-45 years old, AND there are no contraindications to doing so, consider taking half an aspirin on a daily basis. However, be sure to get your physician’s advice before doing so, as taking aspirin regularly can sometimes lead to serious complications in certain people.

8. Annual Checkup:

Have an annual medical to exclude diseases such as diabetes, which increase your likelihood of heart disease, particularly if unrecognized and untreated.

9. Red, Red Wine:

One to two glasses of (red) wine every night helps to prevent heart disease. Make it a habit to have a single small glass of wine with the evening meal.

10. Don’t Worry Be Happy:

Try and maintain a healthy disposition and outlook. Negative emotions (stress) release more Nor-epinephrine from the body. Nor-epinephrine is a ‘harsher’ cardiovascular hormone than the more positive ‘rush’ associated with epinephrine!

by Bob Chawk

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