Heart disease is a killer for men and women, but it is not your fate. While some risk factors (family history and age) are beyond our power to change, there is no barrier to taking steps to prevent heart disease.
Take steps to avoid heart disease: don’t smoke, exercise regularly and eat healthy foods.
By taking steps to live a healthy life starting today, you can avoid heart problems in the future. Here are five important rules for heart health that you can start with right away:

1-Don’t smoke

Smoking or using other forms of tobacco is one of the most important risk factors for the development of heart disease. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4800 chemicals, many of which damage the heart and blood vessels. As a result, they cause narrowing of the blood vessels (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis ultimately leads to heart attacks. Nicotine in cigarette smoke also makes it harder for the heart to work by narrowing the blood vessels, increasing the heart rate and raising blood pressure. The carbon monoxide in smoke displaces some of the blood’s oxygen. The heart struggles to provide enough oxygen and blood pressure rises.

Social smoking, smoking with friends in a bar or restaurant, is also harmful and increases the risk of heart disease. Women who smoke and take birth control pills are at higher risk of heart attack and stroke than non-smokers. Worse, this risk increases with age and is particularly pronounced in women over 35. One good result of quitting smoking is that the risk of heart disease is significantly reduced within a year. It doesn’t matter how many years or how many cigarettes a day you have smoked and as soon as you stop smoking you will start to see the benefits: your breathing clears, your color improves, blood pressure approaches normal, heart rate (pulse rate per minute) normalizes.

2-Become more active

Regular, non-excessive physical activity can reduce the risk of fatal heart disease. The benefits are even greater if physical activity is combined with other healthy living habits (e.g. maintaining a normal weight). Physical activity (exercise, gymnastics) can help control your weight and prevent the development of certain conditions that can put a strain on your heart (high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes). Physical activity also reduces stress, which is a factor in the development of heart disease.

It is generally recommended to do 30 to 60 minutes of moderately vigorous physical activity (walking, jogging, climbing stairs, etc.) a few days a week. If you can’t do this, don’t give up, shorter bursts of calisthenics can also help. It is also useful to work in the garden, do household chores, take the dog for a walk, etc.

3 – Follow a heart-healthy diet

A heart-healthy diet is a diet low in fat, cholesterol and salt. It also includes lots of fruit and vegetables, cereals and low-fat dairy products, legumes and fish. It is also important to limit certain fats (saturated, unsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fats), which raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk of coronary artery disease. Red meat, butter, cheese, cheese, milk, coconut and palm oils contain a lot of saturated fats. Trans fats are thought to be more harmful than saturated fats because they increase LDU (bad cholesterol) and lower HDL (good cholesterol). Foods containing trans fats: deep-fried fast food, margarines, crackers and bakery products, etc.

Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that reduce the risk of heart attack, protect against heart arrhythmias and lower blood pressure. Some fish are natural sources of omega 3 fats. However, pregnant women and women of childbearing age should avoid shark, swordfish and mackerel because they contain mercury, which can be harmful to the child, while others can eat these fish. Omega 3 fats are also found in small amounts in flaxseed, walnuts, soy and canola oil. Drinking alcohol in moderation (men 2 drinks a day and women one drink a day) is protective for the heart. Any more than this is harmful to health.

4-Maintaining a healthy body weight

When you gain excess weight in adulthood, it is more fat than muscle. This excess weight can lead to conditions that cause heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes). You can determine whether your weight is healthy by calculating your body mass index (BMI). This uses weight and height: weight kg/height in meters squared, e.g. 70/ (1.70) squared = 24. A BMI of more than 25 is associated with higher blood fats and blood pressure and therefore a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. BMI is not a healthy guideline. Muscle pulls more than fat. Men and women with muscle may have a high BMI despite being healthy. This is why measuring waist circumference is a useful way to measure abdominal fat. A waist circumference of more than 101.6 cm in men and 88.9 cm in women indicates overweight. Losing 10% of body weight lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and reduces the risk of diabetes.

5- Regular check-ups

High blood pressure and high cholesterol damage the heart and blood vessels. It is useful to control these. Blood pressure Regular blood pressure checks should start as a child. Adults should have their blood pressure checked every two years. If blood pressure values are not optimal or if there are other risk factors for heart disease, these checks should be more frequent. Optimal blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mmhg.

Cholesterol: Adults should have their cholesterol measured at least once every five years. Check-ups should continue depending on the results. Children should be checked more frequently if they have a family history of heart disease.

It is possible to prevent heart disease and it is important to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle.

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