Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the world, over and above cancer. This pathology mainly affects Western societies, by lifestyle and unhealthy diet.
One of the dangers of not having a healthy heart is the lack of symptoms, so prevention is essential. Some risk factors, such as age or genetic inheritance, cannot be avoided. However, most of the aspects that influence poor heart health, which can lead to a heart attack or angina, can be prevented by following several guidelines.
Today we are going to analyze the keys to maintaining a healthy heart at any age.
1. Healthy and balanced diet
You’ve heard a thousand times how important it is to have healthy eating habits but we have to repeat it once again. A balanced diet is one of the essential aspects, not only to maintain a healthy heart, but to take care of our organism at all levels.
Eating healthy helps to control three of the most important risk factors that influence heart disease: cholesterol, hypertension and excess weight.
Eating a healthy diet does not mean that you have to eat everything boiled and grilled, but rather that you have to change some of your shopping and cooking habits:
-Reducing salt consumption
-Take less sugar
-Limit alcohol consumption to a glass of red wine with meals.
-Eating more fruit, vegetables, cereals and legumes
-To promote the consumption of fish (preferably blue) as opposed to red meat.
-Cooking with little fat, opting for healthier oils, such as virgin olive oil, instead of butter or margarine.
-To take skimmed milk products
-Reduce egg consumption
-Avoid precooked meals
2. Watching your weight
Not only obesity, overweight aggravates heart disease for several reasons. An overweight person puts more strain on their heart, has a greater risk of hypertension and diabetes, as well as other diseases. This can lead to coronary heart disease or stroke.
Returning to the importance of a balanced diet, it is important to remember that in order to have a healthy heart it is convenient to control that our body mass index (BMI) is below 25. To know the BMI it is enough to divide our weight in kilos by our height in meters squared. A value above 30 is an indication that there is a problem of obesity.
3. Active life
Sedentarism is one of the great evils of today’s society. Experts agree that maintaining an active lifestyle reduces the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease.
Moderate physical activity helps to keep the heart healthy because by reducing overweight, hypertension and cholesterol, it reduces the risk of heart attack or angina. Exercise, on the other hand, helps control stress, which is another risk factor.
Running, walking at a good pace, swimming or cycling are the most recommended and suitable exercises for any age. It is enough to practice 30 minutes a day to strengthen the heart.
4. Give up tobacco
Quitting smoking is usually very complicated for most people. However, smoking is one of the main enemies of a healthy heart. Tobacco consumption is associated with pathologies of the cardiovascular system, as it favours the risk of thrombosis and makes it difficult to irrigate the heart, since the diameter of the arteries is reduced.
It is common for smokers to have to make more than one attempt to stop this harmful habit. However, don’t be disappointed if you don’t get it right away. The most important thing is willpower and, in many cases, medical and psychological advice.
5. Reducing stress
Believe it or not, stress and anxiety are risk factors that can affect the heart. Living in stress causes the heart to speed up and increase blood pressure, so it can aggravate existing cardiovascular diseases. To keep stress at bay, there’s nothing better than pleasurable, relaxing activities. It’s important to find a moment for ourselves and dedicate it to our well-being, whether it’s walking through nature, doing yoga or reading a book.
Prevention is the best way to avoid cardiovascular diseases, especially in those with risk factors such as family history, hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity or smoking. This, together with a healthy lifestyle, will increase our quality of life and life expectancy.