According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year over 800,000 Americans suffer a heart attack. Of these, over 600,000 are a first heart attack and about 200,000 happen to people who have already had a heart attack. Even more thought provoking is that about 1 in 5 heart attacks is silent, where the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it.
A heart attack happens when the blood supply to a portion of the heart is suddenly cut off. This usually occurs from atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), where blood flow to the heart is blocked by cholesterol and calcium-based plaques. High blood pressure and inactivity can also increase your risk of a heart attack.
There are many ways you can lower your chances of becoming a statistic. If you need help, consider reaching out to our nutrition team to assist you in setting and achieving health goals to help reduce your risk.
Tips to Start Protecting Your Heart
Research shows that making the right diet choices can make a big difference. Include soluble whole fibers such as oats and barley. Soluble fiber helps keep cholesterol in check. Magnesium-filled leafy greens, beans and nuts can lower blood pressure and most importantly, reducing your intake of sodium in all forms (especially processed foods) helps some people lower blood pressure.
A diet packed with colorful fruits and veggies provides heart-helping antioxidants and essential nutrients. Both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) offer guidelines for heart-healthy eating, encouraging whole foods and fiber, and limiting saturated and trans fats. However, goods fats such as olive oil and fish oil can help with blood pressure and may reduce the damage that cholesterol can do to arteries.
Exercise is just as important as a good diet. Daily exercise has many benefits for your heart. Weight loss, healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and stress reduction all have direct, positive effects on heart health. These can all be achieved through exercise. If you haven’t exercised in a while, consult with your health care practitioner first about what you can do.
Exercise and physical activity benefit the body, while a sedentary lifestyle does the opposite – increasing the chances of becoming overweight and developing a number of chronic diseases. Research shows that people who spend more time each day watching television, sitting, or riding in cars have a greater chance of dying early than people who are more active.
One of the best things you can do for your health is to not use tobacco in any form. Tobacco use is a hard-to-break habit that can slow you down, make you sick, and shorten your life. One way it does this is by contributing to heart disease.
In fact, researchers examining the relationship between cigarette smoking and smoking cessation on mortality during a decades-long perspective study of over 100,000 women found that approximately 64% of deaths among current smokers and 28% of deaths among former smokers were attributable to cigarette smoking.
Extra Help – Supplements
In addition to a healthy diet and exercise, supplements can offer further support for a healthy heart and circulatory system. Again, consult with a knowledgeable health care practitioner about these supplements before taking them.
- Coenzyme Q10: Improves energy delivery to the heart by appearing to reduce the formation of artery-blocking plaques. CoQ10 may have blood thinning properties, so consult with your doctor if you are on blood thinning medications.
- Niacin: Also known as vitamin B3, niacin reduces LDL (lousy cholesterol) and triglycerides, while increasing HDL (healthy cholesterol). Niacin can cause flushing in some people.
- Fish Oil: Reduces inflammation and helps improve cholesterol levels.
Diet, exercise, not smoking (or quitting smoking) and supplements can have a a positive affect on not only your heart, but overall health.
Photo from here, with thanks.