How to prevent heart disease is something that we should all be thinking about as we get older, as most of us don’t think about this at all until it is too late.
While it’s true that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and most first world countries for both women and men, it’s also true that you have some control over certain risk factors that lead up to heart disease. In fact you can even reverse some of the symptoms if they’re caught early on.
Heart Disease is considered mainly a lifestyle disease, which means its main causes are lifestyle choices such as diet and lack of exercise. This is good news as it means that we have an adequate amount of control over it and how to prevent heart disease.
The important thing is to learn all you can about these factors and how they can be regulated so you can enjoy a healthy, strong and disease-free heart.
What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is usually a broad term which refers to several conditions relating to an unhealthy heart, which may include:
- Heart attack
- Heart Valve Problems
- Hardening of the arteries
How To Prevent Heart Disease, And Is It Possible?
The good news is that there are things you can do when it comes to how to prevent heart disease of any sort.
Generally, heart diseases don’t happen overnight. Heart disease in most cases takes years to develop, and its symptoms may be spurred on or slowed down depending on the lifestyle choices you make starting from your early adulthood years.
Some scientists even argue that it starts as early as your childhood because it’s all connected. This also makes sense from the perspective of heart disease is a lifestyle disease, as many of our eating and activity habits are solidified in childhood.
When it comes to preventing heart disease, the American Heart Association and other health experts break it down into 3 categories:
Primordial prevention is for those who have no risk factors that could result in heart disease.
This type of prevention works at avoiding any type of inflammation within the lining of the heart while maintaining heart health in order to ward off high blood pressure, extra weight, and high cholesterol.
Primary prevention is meant to prevent someone who is at risk of heart disease. This could be anything from having a heart attack, stroke, or develop any other type of heart disease, or the need for surgery or angioplasty.
It provides a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle for individuals who suffer from high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. Medications may also be prescribed in an effort to control these risk factors and bring them down to healthier levels.
The measures taken after someone has already suffered from some type of heart disease or undergone heart surgery is called secondary prevention.
These may include taking medication to lower cholesterol levels and aspirin to help prevent blood clots.
Secondary prevention also includes eating healthier foods, exercising regularly to ward off stress and manage weight, quitting smoking if needed and regulating how much alcohol is consumed on a daily basis.
The aim of secondary prevention is to defend against a second heart attack and to stop any advancing heart disease symptoms.
First things first, letís find out what risk factors canít be controlled so you can get them out of the way and focus on what you can control.
Risk Factors You May Not Be Able To Change
There are some risk factors you won’t be able to change when it comes to how to prevent heart disease. They include the following:
- Family History
So it’s always a good idea to manage those risk factors that you can control like:
- Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet
- Managing your weight
- Getting regular exercise
- Watching your blood pressure doesn’t get too high
- Lowering your cholesterol levels by cutting out the excess fats
- Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Quitting Smoking, as no amount of smoking is good for your heart
- Managing your stress levels. Try Meditation or Yoga
- Getting quality and uninterrupted sleep
Eating Tips On How To Prevent Heart Disease
Here are some ways in which to eat and diet secrets which can help you keep a healthy heart for longer.
Control Your Portion Size
How much you eat is just as important as what you eat.
Do not overload your plate and eat until you feel stuffed, as this leads to eating many more calories than you should.
Try using a smaller plate or bowl when dishing to control your portions.
Eat larger portions of low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods like vegetables and fruits.
Eat smaller portions of high-sodium and high-fat foods, processed food and fast food. This strategy will help your heart as well as your waistline.
Eat More Whole Grains
Whole grains are good sources of fibre and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health.
You can increase the number of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products. Or be adventuresome and try a new whole grain, such as whole-grain farro, quinoa or barley. Eat brown rice instead of white rice or wholewheat pasta instead of white pasta.
Choose Low Fat Protein
Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and eggs are some of your best sources of protein. But be careful to choose lower fat options, such as skim milk rather than whole milk and skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken pieces.
Fish is another good alternative to high-fat meats, especially cold water fish like salmon, mackerel and herring. These types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which also work to lower blood fats which are called triglycerides.
Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are walnuts, soybeans, canola oil and flaxseed.
Legumes such as peas, beans and lentils are also great sources of protein and they contain less fat and no cholesterol, which makes them good substitutes for meat.
So, whether you are working on maintaining your healthy heart or working on how to prevent heart disease, studies have proven that making healthy lifestyle choices can fend off nearly 80% of heart diseases, 75% of sudden cardiac deaths and 50% of strokes.
It’s never too early to start making those smart choices and start investing in a healthier, brighter, longer and happier life.
Heart disease is a scary topic and I’m glad i came across this post! I wasn’t aware that diet can have an impact on heart disease.
Will definitely be focusing on eating more whole grains as you suggested.
In regards to low fat proteins do you have an good recipes that you can recommend?
Good luck with eating those healthy whole grains.
Here are some healthy high protein recipes that you can try.
The great thing is that the points you mention to manage the risk factors we can control are also good for pretty much any health condition… 🙂 I often find in health that what helps for a specific area (like heart attack prevention) also helps for other areas (like adrenal fatigue)… 🙂
What is your experience on how the ingestion of too much liquid and a higher momentary but recurrent blood volume influences the risks of a hear attack?
Sorry Nathalie, I am not a health professional so I can’t answer this question, but maybe some of our other readers can.
Its a relief to hear that I have some control of heart disease causes. This must be the worst diseases I can sacrifice to do anything to prevent. I have no problem with alcohol, exercising and eating balanced diet, so unless its because of those factors I cannot control, I am good to go.
Thank you so much for such a comprehensive article, I had so many take aways, and helpful advice to work on.
Just keep living a healthy lifestyle and avoid the big risks like smoking, drinking too much and not getting enough exercise and you will give yourself the best chance long term.