The American Heart Association releases heart disease stats annually (1). Cardiovascular disease accounts for about 1/3 of the death toll across the globe. One American dies from this about every 40 seconds. Various heart diseases claimed more than 17 million lives from the world last year. The report goes on to estimate by 2030 they will be claiming 23.6 million lives annually.
5 Lifestyle Changes To Prevent Heart Attacks
One study done at the Karolinska Institute found that developing the following five healthy habits could prevent nearly 80 percent of first-time heart attacks in men (2):
- A healthy diet
- Being physically active (walking/bicycling ≥40 min/day and exercising ≥1 h/week)
- Healthy waist circumference (waist circumference <95 cm or 37.4 inches)
- Moderate alcohol consumption (10 to 30 g/day)
- No smoking
“It is not surprising that healthy lifestyle choices would lead to a reduction in heart attacks,” said Agneta Akesson, the lead researcher for the study. “What is surprising is how drastically the risk dropped due to these factors.”
Physical Activity is Key
The AHA has declared that living a sedentary life not only drives the risk of cardiovascular disease up, but it is a risk that can be avoided in nearly all situations (3).
The Department of Cardiovascular Diseases at the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans examined the outcomes of using cardiac rehabilitation as well as physical activity as not only a secondary prevention method, but as the primary.
The study revealed much more than the positive heart health effects of physical activity.
Exercise was shown to reduce plasma lipid levels and correct obesity indices. It also improved glucose metabolism, reduced inflammation, and enhanced the psychological health of CHD patients.
The investigation demonstrated a 20% to 25% reduction in chief CV mortality and morbidity. The most important finding perhaps was the fact that this method is overlooked and underused.
In conclusion, the report stated that exercise regimens for heart patients should not be extreme as this may increase their risks.
Another study showed evidence that routine physical activity for preventing cardiovascular disease is prodigious (4).
The Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences released findings that exercise strengthens skeletal muscle functional capacity and lowers resistance. It enhanced the capacity of intrinsic pumping of the heart. The evidence strongly suggests that routine exercise can reduce or even partially restore dysfunction within the heart (5).
Treating Food As Medicine
A Lyon heart Study examined subjects between the ages of 50-80 and had been previously diagnosed with myocardial infarctions.
Those who were placed on a Mediterranean diet presented with a 50% to 70% reduction of recurrent cardiovascular disorders.
Scientists give a large portion of the credit for this to the consistent use olive oil in Mediterranean recipes. Organic virgin olive oil provides:
- Lipophilic Compounds – Dissolves fats and lipids.
- A-tocopherol – Vitamin E with powerful antioxidants.
- Phenolic components – Antioxidant enrichment with lipid destroying actions.
- Antioxidant Properties – Reverse oxidative stress.
- Anti-inflammatory Characteristics – Reduces internal and external edema.
Avoiding Self-Inflicting Poisons
The Bureau of Metabolism published a report concerning the effects of various lifestyle components on disease (7).
It was reiterated that smoking cigarettes significantly increases the risks of developing hypertension; stroke; peripheral vascular disorders; and coronary artery disease.
It has also been linked to endothelial inflammation and dysfunction, or a disruption of the relaxing and constricting abilities within arteries.
This leads to thrombus formation and incites atherosclerotic plaque. A link has also been drawn between the nicotine and carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke and various cardiovascular diseases.
Modifiable Lifestyle Choices to Promote Heart Health
- Get some sort of physical activity, such as walking, at least 25 minutes every alternate day.
- Avoid all types of tobacco smoke.
- Eat fresh organic foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with the least amount of processing possible.
- Avoid saturated fats, trans-fats, processed sugars, and enriched grains.
- Opt for lean meats and fish which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Incorporate superfoods such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and legumes into routine dietary intake.
- Consider starting a small garden which provides physical activity as well as fresh, organic foods.