Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the single bigger killer in the UK as well as leading cause of death worldwide. One in seven men and nearly one in ten women die from coronary heart disease. Around 70,000 deaths are caused due to CHD in the UK each year. An average of 190 people each day or one death every eight minutes. Most deaths from CHD are caused by a heart attack.
So what contributes to heart disease?
Usually CHD is caused by a build-up of fatty deposits on the walls of coronary arteries around the heart which makes these arteries that are narrower and restricts the flow of blood to the health muscle. Blood pressure, cholesterol level and diabetes are key factors of heart disease. Hypertenstion puts a strain on your heart and can lead to CHD. Cholesterol is a fat made by liver from saturated fat in your diet and builds up on arteries. Diabetes raises your risk to develop CHD by twice as it may cause the lining of blood vessels to become thicker which restricts blood flow.
What measures can you take to prevent heart disease?
Keeping a healthy heart is the most significant thing you can do to prevent heart disease. This involves lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and your risk of developing diabetes.
Here are 6 lifestyle choices to consider for preventing the heart disease:
- No smoking
Stop smoking to protect health of your heart. Lifetime smoking increases risk of developing heart disease because chemicals in the tobacco get into your bloodstream from the lungs and damages the lining of your arteries. The carbon monoxide in it reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood so the heart has to pump harder to supply your body with the oxygen it needs. The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates the body to produce adrenaline that makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure by making it work harder.
Quit smoking to feel better and save money in your pockets to spend on other things that you enjoy.
- Healthy eating
A healthy diet reduces the risk of developing heart disease and affects the controllable risk factors such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure and diabetes. Opt for a low-fat, high fibre diet including fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, nuts, legumes and fish is related to around 18% lower risk of having a heart attack.
- Moderate alcohol consumption
The recommended daily amount of alcohol for men is three to four units a day and two to three units for women. Drinking more than the recommended amount of it can have a harmful effect on your heart as it can cause high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms and also damage your heart muscle. Since it is high in calories, it can lead to obesity and weight gain.
However, there is also a cardio-protective effect of moderate alcohol consumption. So drink alcohol as per the guidelines.
- Be physically active
Physical activity can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Exercising regularly will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, lower your cholesterol and health you in controlling their weight.
As per research, three to four sessions per week lasting for an average of 40 minutes per session and involving with moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity helps lower the cholesterol, blood pressure and keep your weight at a healthy level.
- Keep to a healthy weight
Being obese or overweight put you at heightened risk of heart diseases such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance which is a precursor of type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Obesity is prevalent and on the increase. Good nutrition, physical activity and controlling the calorie intake are essential to maintain a healthy weight.
- Reduce stress
Stress is not a direct risk factor for heart disease; however, it may contribute to your risk level depending on your coping mechanisms.