Cardiovascular (heart) disease is one of the leading causes of death globally. According to the World Health Organization, heart disease claims more than 17 million lives each year. The majority of these deaths is preventable. But requires simple lifestyle changes.
What is cardiovascular or heart disease?
Heart disease refers to any disorder of the heart and blood vessels that effects the heart’s function. The most common type is coronary artery disease which occurs when cholesterol plaque builds up inside the artery walls and slows down the flow of blood supply to the heart. In time, this condition may completely block the blood flow by clogging the artery or forming a clot, inevitably causing a heart attack.
Other disorders includes valvular heart disease, cardiomyopathy, heart arrhythmias, cerebrovascular disease, congenital heart disease, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and more.
- Are you a smoker?
- Do you regularly consume large quantities of alcohol?
- Have you been indulging in unhealthy foods?
- Do you have close relatives with heart disease?
- Are you constantly stressed?
- Do you avoid exercise?
- Are you overweight?
- Are you diabetic?
- Do you have high blood pressure?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are most likely at risk of heart disease.
Although risks are often behavioural, they can also be hereditary. Alongside lifestyle modifications, it is helpful for you to be able to identify and monitor the early signs and symptoms of heart disease. These include indigestion, shortness of breath, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, sweating, and nausea.
So if you know or suspect that you are at risk of heart disease, why not commit yourself to living a healthier life today. Follow these 9 steps toward a healthier life and a healthier heart.
Step 1 – Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Regularly include at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits as part of your daily meals.
- Avoid saturated fat, processed food and food that is high in sodium.
Step 2 – Exercise regularly
- Set aside at least 30 minutes a day for physical activities.
- You can walk, jog, swim or do other activities, as long as you try to keep regular commitments throughout the week.
- If you are up for the challenge, add in at least 60 minutes of weight training each week for an even more effective result.
- Exercise helps to lower cholesterol level and strengthen the body, including the heart. It also reduces stress. Remember to stretch well after each session to avoid injuries.
Step 3 – Quit smoking
- The most significant risk factor for heart disease is smoking cigarettes.
- By quitting, you can greatly reduce this risk.
- It has been proven that after you quit smoking for one year, your risk decreases by 50%. So why not commit now.
Step 4 – Lose weight and keep it under control
- By losing weight, you will lower your blood sugar level, lipids profile and blood pressure, all significant risk factors of heart disease.
Step 5 – Take the right supplements
- Often times stress and toxins in the environment in which we live can release free radicals into the body and cause inflammation at the cellular level.
- This can potentially cause heart disease. However, the right supplements will introduce antioxidants to fight inflammation and lower this risk.
- Make sure to consult your physician about the appropriate supplements for you.
Step 6 – Limit alcohol consumption
- When consumed in an unbalanced and irresponsible way, alcohol can be detrimental to your life.
- Negative physical effects on the body include weight gain, high blood pressure and liver damage and strained relationships with your loved ones.
- Limit your alcohol consumption to lower the risk of heart disease.
Step 7 – Manage stress
- Stress sneaks up on us, damaging our body and mind.
- Ways to manage stress include self-awareness practice, meditation and exercise.
Step 8 – Annual health checkup
- Regularly monitor your physical condition.
- An annual health checkup monitors your blood pressure, lipids profile, sugar level, body mass index (BMI) and more.
- Informs you of your lifestyle changes and its effectiveness
Step 9 – Actively create a positive environment
- Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, set a positive vibe and create a healthy environment around you.
- This can be as simple as looking at a situation from a positive point of view.
- It can be encouraging those around you to think and act positively.
- Set personal and professional goals that are achievable and recognise important milestones and reward yourself and those around you.
At the heart of it all, enjoy life and be happy while continuously improving your quality of life. Heart disease is preventable, so let’s not become part of the statistics.
Narinthorn Surasinthon, MD.
Medical Director, Thanyapura Integrative Health Centre