A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is interrupted because of a clot in the artery due to the deposition of cholesterol and fats on the walls of the artery. There are several other risk factors like diabetes and blood pressure that also contribute to artery blockage, which further increases the risk of a heart attack. Although a heart attack can be fatal, simple lifestyle modifications can help prevent its occurrence.
Here are 6 healthy changes you can make in your life to lower the risk of a heart attack.
1. Following a healthy diet:
“A healthy diet is one that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, pulses, low-fat dairy products, whole grains and fish, as opposed to processed, refined and junk foods,” says Dr Sundeep Mishra, Cardiologist at AIIMS. These packaged foods have a high sugar, fat, salt and preservative content, which increases the risk of a heart attack by contributing to risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of physical exercise every day to improve cardiovascular fitness. Walking, swimming or cycling could be simple exercises that can be extremely beneficial for improving your circulation and heart health.
3. Quit smoking:
Tobacco is dangerous in all forms, whether it is cigarettes, cigars or in a chewable form. Studies have reported a 50% reduction in heart attack risk among those who stop using tobacco products. So, quitting smoking is likely to lower your risk of heart attacks in half.
4. Limit alcohol Intake:
Anything in excess is bad for health, and when it comes to alcohol, this is even more true. Remember, moderation is the key when it comes to alcohol. Studies have reported an 11% reduction in the heart attack risk among those drinking less; so, make sure you discuss with your doctor what your personal goals should be.
5. Manage stress:
The daily hustle and increasing work pressure are making stress one of the major risk factors for a heart attack. The hormone cortisol, which is released during stress, impacts the sugar and cholesterol levels in the blood, thereby increasing the chances of clot formation in the blood vessels. Dr Mishra suggests practising yoga or meditation to lower stress levels. “It is important to strike a work-life balance to live a healthy life,” he adds.
6. Monitor your health:
Regular assessment of risk factors is an important aspect of preventing a heart attack. To lower your risk of a heart attack, you must be aware of your sugar levels, cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels in order to take preventive steps. If any of these levels are increased, you might have to take medication to control them before implementing other lifestyle changes.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies diet, exercise and quitting tobacco as the three key factors in preventing a heart attack, along with controlling and monitoring risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, these lifestyle changes could reduce the risk of a heart attack by 80%.
- The World Health Organisation (www.who.int)
- Nancy K. Sweitzer, MD, PhD. Five Ways to Reduce the risk of heart attack by 80%. Journal of the American College of Cardiology.