Heart disease is the number one killer in the US and UK. 'Heart disease' is an umbrella term, meaning that it encompasses a huge range of different heart conditions, all caused by many different factors, but also ones which can be easily cut out to improve health. Here is your lifestyle cheat sheet on how to stop yourself developing the heart diseases that claim so many lives in the Western world every year...
Even if you are currently suffering from heart disease it's well known that if caught early on the bad effects can be reversed and the condition of your cardiac system can be brought back to their former glory. Much of the time, heart disease is caused by a poor or 'excessive' lifestyle that is high in the wrong kinds of fats, sugar and salt. Of course it's easy to say 'eat healthily', but it's not always easy to know what to substitute your old diet with in order to save your arteries and heart. Firstly, quit smoking and drinking. Both of these habits contribute hugely to high cholesterol, which blocks up the arteries and can cause heart attacks. Foods that are said to reduce cholesterol are artichokes and various yogurts and dairy products which contain specific nutrients and are designed for high cholesterol sufferers.
Saturated fat is proven to raise cholesterol, whereas unsaturated fats are much healthier. Foods high in saturated fats include butter, cream, sausages, peanut butter with palm oil and biscuits. Unsaturated fats are much better for you and you can find them in oily fish, avocado, vegetable oil and nuts. Fiber is also great at reducing cholesterol so eating a lot of fruit, vegetables, beans (even baked beans!), pulses oats and lentils will certainly help. Try looking up recipes such as Moroccan tagine which includes a lot of these vegetables and is great served with boiled potatoes. Grilled salmon with green beans and brown rice is also good.
Most people with underlying heart conditions are encouraged to undertake 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, unless advised against by their doctor. For the rest of us who are completely healthy, a 20 minute walk each day will help to reduce our risk of heart disease. Try to do 30 minutes to one hour of moderate to heavy exercise per week to get your body to an optimum level of fitness. You should be keeping this up if there is a family of heart disease in your family.
One of the other leading causes of heart disease is, of course, stress. Reducing stress is easier said than done and a lot of us would do if it was in any way possible. Yet for others, we have got ourselves into a job that demands too much of us, yet we're too stubborn to back out of it. If this is you then do ask yourself whether it is your health or your job which is most important.
As the leading cause of death in the western world it's incredible how many people are ignoring the fact that they already have symptoms of heart disease. If you are stressed, overweight, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol then visit your doctor for advice on how to change your lifestyle.