Find Out About the Symptoms and Prevention of Heart Problems

Your heart – it’s one of the aspects of your overall health that you find yourself worrying about the most, and rightfully so. After all, your heart pumps your blood – your very life force – throughout your body relentlessly. This supplies nutrients and oxygen, and removes toxic metabolic products from the cells. Simply put, we’re nothing without our hearts.

And that’s why you’re understandably worried about it. After all, heart-related diseases – also commonly known as cardiovascular diseases – are some of the main causes of death worldwide.

The Dangers of Cardiovascular Diseases

One such cardiovascular disease is coronary artery disease. In 2013 alone, coronary artery disease has led to 8.14 million deaths globally1. How it works is that, over many years, plaque builds up in the arteries. Eventually, the plaque hardens, narrowing the arteries and reducing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Alternatively, the plaque could rupture, causing a blood clot to form and – if the clot is large enough – block blood flow through the artery. Over time, the ruptured plaque also hardens and narrows the arteries.

Symptoms

The common symptoms for heart attacks include chest pains that happen during physical activities. The chest pain can spread to other parts of your body like your neck, shoulders, arms, hands or back. This could be coupled with heartburn or shortness of breath. At first, the symptoms can only last for few minutes, but the pain worsens with physical activity and begins to last longer.

Prevent Heart Problems

The thing about cardiovascular diseases though is that, as dangerous as they sound, it is statistically estimated that 90% are actually preventable2. The risk factors of heart diseases include smoking, a poor diet, stress and a lack of exercise – all of which are within your control. Smoking and a lack of exercise alone are associated with 55%3, and up to 12%4 of cases respectively.

As mentioned earlier, 90% of heart diseases can be prevented by a healthier diet, keeping your BMI at less than 25 and regular exercise.

A diet high in fruits, fibre and vegetables, and low in fat, diminishes the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 25%5. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that this diet – also known as the Mediterranean diet – is better than a low-fat diet in maintaining cardiovascular health because it helps to reduce blood cholesterol and blood pressure.

Conversely, avoid trans-fat, which is found in products like margarine. You should also reduce sugar consumption and exercise for at least half an hour a day for five days a week. This helps to manage your weight, which also helps to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.

If you’re a smoker or drinker, you will also want to stop smoking and restrict your alcohol consumption. You don’t have to eliminate alcohol entirely, of course. In fact, research by Thomas A. Pearson, MD, PhD, from the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association found that moderate consumption can actually reduce cardiovascular disease risk by 30%6.

As the build-up of stress can contribute to a high blood pressure, try to reduce stress through proper breathing, tai chi or other relaxing activities.

Heart problems are a constant worry. But it doesn’t have to be the case – as long as you take the right precautionary measures to keep yourself healthy.

References

  1. http://www.thevisualmd.com/searchimg/?idu=1083610775
  2. http://www.tesh.com/story/health-and-well-being-category/heart-disease-is-90-percentage-preventable/cc/6/id/21235
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4066894
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2857374/
  5. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/newsplus/study-finds-mediterranean-diet-reduces-heart-disease-risk/
  6. http://web.archive.org/web/20060125022927/http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/94/11/3023
  7. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/AboutHeartAttacks/About-Heart-Attacks_UCM_002038_Article.jsp
  8. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack
  9. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heart-attack/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  10. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hdw/causes
  11. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Coronary-heart-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  12. http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/cardiovascular-conditions/Pages/coronary-heart-disease.aspx
  13. http://www.info.gov.hk/elderly/english/health_problems/eng/chd.htm

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