Heart disease can be deadly. But it can also be easily prevented or treated. Here is what you need to know to protect your heart.
What is Heart Disease?
When your heart muscle is working too hard, it pumps blood to parts of your body that don’t need it. It means the amount of blood flowing to the rest of your body gets less and less, even though more of your blood is pumping in your heart. As a result, the pressure in your heart can get higher and higher. Thus it can damage or even kill your heart muscle or the valves between your heart chambers.
When your heart muscle is damaged, or your valves are abnormal, you can die from a heart attack. Most heart attacks happen in the blood vessels around the heart. When your arteries become narrow or leaky, blood can’t get through as quickly. Blood clots can form, blocking the flow of blood to your heart. An artery that doesn’t get enough blood may become weak. It can lead to a stroke when you can suddenly lose some of your physical control.
Heart disease can be from smoking, diet, and lack of exercise. A heart attack is most likely to happen when you’re 45 to 65 years old, but it’s not impossible in younger or older people. Other risk factors include:
Family History of Heart Disease: Having a close family member with heart disease puts you at greater risk of getting the disease.
Diabetes: If your blood sugar levels are high and your blood pressure is too high, you’re at increased risk of developing heart disease.
High cholesterol: The most common risk factor for heart disease is cholesterol, which is often high in people with abnormal heart valves, damaged heart muscle, or coronary artery disease.
High blood pressure: Another risk factor for heart disease, high blood pressure, is most common in people with certain conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease, or in people who have had a stroke.
How Can You Prevent Heart Disease?
There are lots of ways to reduce your risk of heart disease. Most of these involve making changes in your diet and your lifestyle.
What You Eat
People who eat a lot of meat are more likely to have a heart attack than people who don’t. Because beef is high in fat and cholesterol, people who eat a lot of meat are often at greater risk of heart disease. A healthy way to eat meat is to eat only about 4 to 6 ounces per day; this is a low-fat, low-calorie. In addition, try to choose lean cuts of meat. Also, try to limit your sodium intake. A diet high in sodium can raise your blood pressure. If you take blood pressure medicine, your doctor may have you cut back on your salt intake to lower your risk of high blood pressure.
A healthy diet can lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure. It can also reduce your risk of diabetes and cancer. Eat a variety of foods. Fruit and vegetables are high in vitamin C and antioxidants, which help prevent some cancers. Foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat, such as meat, milk, and butter, can increase your risk of heart disease. They can also increase your blood cholesterol level. Try to eat more foods low in cholesterol and saturated fat, such as fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, and grains.
You can take steps to lower your heart disease risk by eating less meat. But if you don’t stop eating meat, you’ll still have increased risks for other chronic diseases.
You can also eat foods that contain plant sterols or phytosterols to lower your cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease. Plant sterols are in whole grains, beans, and nuts. Eating a small amount each day can help lower your total cholesterol.
The following lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk of heart disease:
People who exercise for 30 minutes on most days have a lower risk of heart disease. If you can, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Or, if you can’t exercise this often, aim for a minimum of 75 minutes of physical activity a week. If you only get 30 minutes of physical activity each day, your risk is more significant. Try to work up to 30 minutes a day, even if it seems tricky at first.
If you smoke, you increase your risk of a heart attack or other heart problems. If you quit, your risk of a heart attack or other heart problems can drop by 20 per cent within the first year.
Drinking can cause heart disease. Some alcoholic beverages are high in calories and other nutrients, but they also contain alcohol, which can cause heart disease. If you drink regularly, your risk of heart disease is more significant than if you don’t drink. People who drink a few drinks a day may not have an increased risk of a heart attack. But those who drink three or more drinks a day are at increased risk of a heart attack. Try to limit yourself to one or two drinks a day if you drink. But if you do drink, try to do so in moderation.
Try to Not Stress
Not having enough stress in your life can increase your risk of a heart attack. But too much pressure can also put your health at risk. If you feel very stressed, make sure to take breaks from your work, even if it means you’ll miss your children’s school plays.
Get Plenty of Sleep
If you get enough sleep, you can cut down on risk factors for heart disease. Your risk of a heart attack is greater if you don’t get at least 6 hours of sleep a night. But if you are too tired, you may not be able to sleep as deeply as you would if you weren’t tired.
Do More Exercise
Regular physical activity can lower your risk of heart disease. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days. If you can’t exercise this often, try to work up to 75 minutes a week. Some people who have heart disease benefit most from exercise. These people should see their doctors first to determine which kind of physical activity is best for them.
The treatment for heart disease depends on what the underlying problems are. You may be able to improve your heart health by taking medicine or by changing your lifestyle.
Heart Disease Treatment
If you have had a heart attack there are drugs that can help lower your risk of a second heart attack and prevent your clogged arteries from getting worse. You can take medicine to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure, lower your risk of heart failure, or reduce your risk of cancer. Some medicines may help your heart muscle to work better.
Doctors may recommend medical therapy, including nitroglycerin if your heart muscle is weak or you have very high blood pressure.
After heart surgery, your doctor will help you learn what to do if you have a heart attack. You will need medicine to control your blood pressure or heart rate. Your doctors will often check your blood pressure, heart rate, etc.
Coronary Artery Disease
Heart disease is the most common type of heart problem in the U.S. If your coronary arteries are clogged, you may need bypass surgery. But this treatment has risks, so talk with your doctor about your options.
Heart failure is a disease that affects your heart muscle. Without a healthy heart, your blood won’t move as quickly. Your doctor may recommend a beta-blocker to help your heart muscle function better. Beta-blockers are the most common medication used to treat heart failure.
Heart Valve Problem
If you have a heart valve problem, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair it, depending on how severe the problem is.
Kidney problems can lead to the buildup of cholesterol in the blood. It can cause heart problems, or heart attacks, to happen earlier than they usually would. Treatments for kidney problems may lower your cholesterol level.
High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, your heart may be working harder. If your blood pressure isn’t under control, you may have a greater risk of heart disease. Talk to your doctor about any medicines you are taking.
Your blood supply to the brain may have become blocked by a blood clot. You may have a blood clot in your heart, arteries, or veins. A blood clot in your brain causes a stroke most of the time. But a clot in your heart can cause a heart attack or heart failure.
Your doctor can treat a stroke with medicines and changes in your lifestyle.
If you have had a stroke, you may also need medicine to help improve blood circulation.