Presse Santé

How to prevent a heart attack and have a healthy heart

Controlling your risk factors for heart disease and adopting a healthy lifestyle can help you prevent a heart attack and take care of your heart.

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of premature death. Unfortunately, some heart attack risk factors cannot be changed. For example, the risk of heart attack increases with age. Most people who die from heart attacks are 65 years of age or older. Also, people who have a family history of heart disease are more likely to get it. Gender is also a risk factor. Men have a higher risk of heart attack than women and also tend to have heart attacks earlier in life. However, women are more likely to die from a heart attack.

There are also modifiable risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and being overweight or obese. Controlling them can make a big difference in your risk of heart disease. The good news is that reducing these major heart disease risks can help prevent future heart attacks.

Lifestyle changes to prevent heart attacks

Lifestyle changes are your first line of defense against heart attacks. Most of the major risk factors for heart disease are related in some way to your lifestyle. Including obesity, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

You can take the following steps to reduce your risk of having a heart attack:

give up smoking

Smoking passes harmful chemicals into the blood and is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, which causes fatty deposits to build up in the arteries. Even if you already have heart disease, you are more likely to have a heart attack and die if you smoke than if you don’t. If you have coronary artery disease and smoke, you can reduce your risk of heart attack recurrence and cardiovascular death by 50% by quitting. If you’re not sure how to successfully quit smoking, ask your doctor for help.

Increase your physical activity

Exercise is the cornerstone of a heart-healthy lifestyle, which includes aerobic and strength-training activities. You should aim for two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week, with activities such as brisk walking. Alternatively, you can do 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, such as running. Also, you should do muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week. These exercises should work all major muscle groups: legs, arms, chest, shoulders, abdomen, hips, and back.

9 tips on diet and heart attack prevention

What you eat and how much you eat can play a big role in your risk of a heart attack. Take the following steps to adopt a heart-healthy diet:

1. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables

Try to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. It’s good to include a wide variety of types and colors of fruits and vegetables.

2. Eat cereals and legumes rich in fiber

Good grain-based options include oatmeal, brown rice, and whole-grain bread. Legumes include dry beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

3. Choose lean meats and fatty fish

The healthiest meats and poultry are 95% lean ground beef, pork tenderloin, and fresh skinless chicken or turkey. Bluefish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, are salmon, tuna, and trout.

4. Eat healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and oils.

Eating healthy fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, can reduce the risk of heart disease. Good sources of these fats are walnuts (most nut varieties), peanuts, seeds (such as sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower), and avocados, as well as canola, olive, safflower, and sunflower.

5. Limit salt and sodium

It is best to consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day for optimal heart health. Processed foods are the main source of sodium in most people’s diets. Canned soups, sauces, luncheon meats, frozen dinners, packaged snacks, and bread are often high in salt.

6. Reduce unhealthy fats

Saturated and trans fats should be limited in your diet. Sources of saturated fat include fatty meat and poultry, high-fat dairy products, and coconut and palm oils. Foods that contain trans fats are made from partially hydrogenated oils, which should be avoided whenever possible. This ingredient is often found in desserts, frozen pizza, and margarine.

7. Limit Added Sugars

Added sugars come in many forms, including brown sugar, regular or high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, fructose, glucose, honey, and maple syrup. Sugary drinks and packaged snacks, pastries, and sweets are the main sources of added sugars.

8. Drink in moderation, if at all

Men should have no more than two drinks a day, while women should have only one drink. We are talking about a glass of wine, not vodka or rum.

9. Watch your calories

Eating the right amount of food is necessary to maintain healthy body weight. It depends on your age, gender, and activity level, among other factors. Choosing smaller portions and eating slowly can help you cut calories and maintain a healthy weight.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information provided can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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