Heart attack is the leading cause of death in the United States. Although a heart attack (or cardiac arrest) may be preceded by the symptoms of heart disease, some victims of heart attack are symptom-less until the day they have their first heart attack.
Remarkably, heart attacks are extremely common and they cause so much pain, yet most of them are preventable: read on to find out 5 lifestyle changes that can prevent nearly 75% of heart attacks.
How to reduce your risk of heart attack with only five simple lifestyle changes
Both of these studies have shown that our lifestyle choices play a significant role in whether or not we develop heart disease or could be prone to heart attacks.
If you’re wondering whether you could do something to help protect your heart health, here are some options to consider exploring:
1. Healthy eating
Eating a heart-conscious diet may be one of the most important things you can do to ward off a heart attack.
Eating foods that are high in fiber, low in trans fat, and contain adequate levels of nutrients like vitamins and minerals can help your whole body be healthier—including your heart.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables, lean protein (for vegetarians see these meat-free protein sources), healthy fat (such as from nuts, seeds, and avocado), and low in processed food can help your heart keep beating for a long time to come.
2. Limit alcohol consumption
It was found that those who limited alcohol consumption had lower chances of suffering a heart attack (those who drink 10-30 grams per day of alcohol as per this study). Although the American Heart Association is more generous in its amounts and recommends limiting your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines one drink as 1-1/2 fluid ounces (fl oz) of 80-proof spirits (such as bourbon, Scotch, vodka, gin, etc.), 5 fl oz of wine, or 12 fl oz of regular beer).
Too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and can also add extra calories, which may cause weight gain.
3. Ditch the cigarettes
Smoking is a big health no-no, and this extends to heart health.
Cigarette smoking can have a severe negative impact on heart health on top of the lung damage it may cause with COPD and lung cancer.
To protect your heart, quit smoking cigarettes. If you can’t do it “cold turkey,” consider using natural remedies to help you along the path to wellness.
4. The belly fat factor
Both the aforementioned research studies showed that “abdominal adiposity”-AKA belly fat-was a significant contributor to heart attack risk.
People with visceral fat (fatty organs) often show fat in their abdominal area, manifesting as a “barrel belly.” This abdominal fat that is so dangerous to heart health may feel solid to the touch or soft to the touch, but in either case, could be just as deadly.
So, what’s healthy for the waistline? According to a recent study, a waist circumference smaller than 95 cm is ideal.
The key thing here is fat in the internal organs, or viscera, though. Take steps to reduce visceral fat (and belly fat) to ensure a long-lived heart.
5. Get physically active
And indeed both studies have found that regular exercise is crucial to maintaining good heart health.
Being a “couch potato” is bad for you, and can contribute to health problems—in particular heart problems.
Your body was designed to be used, and the recent study talks about walking/bicycling more than 40 minutes a day and exercising more than one hour per week. So make sure to regularly exercise. It can make a huge difference for heart-related wellness (and the rest of your body, too!).
According to the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, everyone should try to participate in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes per week, or vigorous aerobic exercise for 1 hour and 15 minutes per week. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, is an exercise in which your heart beats faster and you use more oxygen than usual. The more active you are, the more you will benefit.