How To Prevent A Heart Attack

June 22, 2021

How To Prevent A Heart Attack

Every year, over 800,000 Americans will experience a heart attack. For every 40 seconds that pass, a person in America will have a heart attack. [1


A heart attack is also known as myocardial infarction. The organs and tissues in your body require oxygen to survive, and your heart is no exception. A buildup of fat and cholesterol on your artery walls leads to the formation of plaques. Plaques are cholesterol deposits that can rupture. When a plaque ruptures, this can cause a blood clot to form and block the arteries supplying your heart muscles. [2


As a result, the blood supply to your heart muscles can be reduced significantly or cut entirely. When these tissues do not get enough oxygen and nutrients from the blood, they can die off and lose their functionality, leading to a heart attack. [2


Even though emergency treatment has improved dramatically over the years, a heart attack is still possibly linked to fatal outcomes. 


As the saying goes, ‘Prevention is better than cure.’ There are some lifestyle modifications that you can incorporate into your daily routine. Doing so may help conserve and safeguard the health of your heart and, thus, lower the risk of a heart attack. 


Here are some things you can do to lessen your chances of getting a heart attack. 


Make Physical Activity A Routine 


According to the American Heart Association, a sedentary lifestyle is one of the primary causes of cardiovascular disease. [3] Hence, one of the best ways you can combat heart disease and reduce your risk of a heart attack is by ensuring you get sufficient exercise. 


Firstly, exercise can increase good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol in your blood. Other than that, physical activity is one of the best weight loss methods and may promote a decrease in blood pressure and an increase in insulin sensitivity. Additionally, performing regular workouts helps improve your body’s ability to transport and use oxygen. Thus, this may expand your exercise capacity and allow you to complete your daily activities with less fatigue. [3]


If you’ve decided to make physical activity part of your lifestyle, there are a few ways you can get into the groove of working out. First and foremost, you should assess your fitness level to avoid overexerting your body and ending up with debilitating injuries during your workout routine. In addition to that, evaluating your fitness level acts as an excellent benchmark for tracking your progress and setting fitness goals [4]. 


When you first start working out, begin with shorter and less complicated workout routines and gradually increase your workouts' duration, intensity, and complexity. Importantly, allow time for recovery as performing exercise for too long or too intensively can increase your risk of injury [4].


It is recommended that you get 150 minutes of moderately intensive workout per week or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week. You may also choose to do a combination of both. Additionally, it is best to incorporate strengthening exercises into your routine at least twice a week. For example, doing sits up or push-ups, or lifting weights. [5

 

 

Practicing a healthy diet 


Diet modification is one of the most powerful tools that you can utilize to lessen your risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks. [6]  


Across a multitude of studies, researchers and experts have investigated the potency of different types of food in preventing heart diseases and improving the functioning of the cardiovascular system. [6] While a healthy diet isn’t a promised overnight cure for all your health problems, it can massively reduce your risk of getting heart diseases by lowering your blood fats, bad cholesterol, and blood pressure. 


Increasing your intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fatty fishes, nuts, and seeds, have all shown to be positively associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Of course, these should still be consumed in moderation as excessive consumption of some of these foods may lead to unwanted outcomes. [6]


On the other hand, you may wish to steer clear of certain foods if you’re keen on adopting a heart-healthy diet. For example, processed meats such as hotdogs and deli meats should be avoided whenever possible, or you may choose to purchase lower-sodium versions of those meats instead. [6


Other than that, try your best to monitor your sugar intake daily. Sodas and sweetened beverages contain sky-high amounts of added sugars. With just a few gulps, a finished can of coke is equivalent to the recommended daily sugar intake limit! [7,8]

Avoid tobacco


Smoking can directly cause cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attacks. Smoking can bring about permanent damage to your heart and blood vessels and cause plaque buildup, which stiffens and narrows your arteries. Besides that, smoking can also thicken your blood and make it harder for blood flow to supply your vital organs, including your brain and heart. [9]


However, exposure to secondhand smoke is hazardous to your health too. In the U.S., secondhand smoke is the cause of over 30,000 premature deaths annually from heart disease. Breathing in secondhand smoke can disrupt the normal functioning of your blood vessels. Thus, this can put you at a greater risk of getting a heart attack or stroke. [10


If you wish to quit smoking, there are some steps you can carry out to escalate your chances of success. Of course, the best thing you can do is seek help from a smoking cessation expert or healthcare professional who can provide you with valuable tools and advice to make your journey a smoother-sailing one. Occasionally, your doctor or pharmacist may also recommend medications such as nicotine patches or gums that may help alleviate your cravings and boost your chances of success. [11


Along the way, you may experience some slip-ups or relapses. However, most smokers attempt to quit smoking several times before they stop smoking for good. Hence, don’t beat yourself up if you’ve slipped up. Smoking is a highly challenging habit to eliminate, but anyone can kick this habit for good with the right strategies. [11

Manage your conditions well 


Do you have conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes? If you do, these conditions, along with some others, can predispose you to a more significant risk of heart attacks and strokes. [12


Your doctor might have prescribed some medications to lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar. For example, you may currently be on a statin to control your cholesterol and bring it back down to the normal range. However, as with many of these medications, you may not be able to vividly feel the improvement in your blood pressure or blood cholesterol. Occasionally, you may even feel perfectly well and healthy even without taking your medications. 


Despite that, it is imperative that you stick to your medication regimen according to your healthcare provider's instructions. Ceasing a medication without first consulting your healthcare professional can be detrimental to your health or lead to cardiovascular damage, especially in the long run. [12]


Besides that, routine checkups with your treating physician are also recommended if you have a chronic condition such as hypertension or diabetes. They will be able to assess your progress and make adjustments to your treatment regimen if necessary. With the assistance of your healthcare team, you can better manage and keep your conditions in check to preserve your health and heart function. 


Limit alcohol intake 


Excessive alcohol intake is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, or heart failure. [13] Heavy drinking or binge drinking can also lead to a heart attack because alcohol can produce extensive damage to your cardiovascular system. In fact, excessive consumption of alcohol can increase your risk of a heart attack by up to 40%! [14


Say you want to safeguard the health of your heart. In that case, it is highly recommended that you drink in moderation. Limit your intake to two drinks per day for males and one drink a day for females. One standard drink is approximately 12 ounces of 5% beer, and your average can of beer is 12 ounces. Hence, roughly two cans of beer are equivalent to the recommended daily limit of alcohol consumption for men. [15]


If you wish to cut down on your alcohol consumption, you can implement a few practical tips to assist you. 


Firstly, you can garner the support of trusted friends and family or seek professional advice or counseling from your healthcare providers. Understandably, you might wish to reduce your alcohol intake abruptly or cut off your alcohol consumption entirely. However, this plan may end up backfiring for some people. Instead, you can start small and gradually increase your progress day by day. [16


Other than that, you can also try replacing higher-strength drinks with lower-strength ones or alternate between glasses of alcohol and water or any other non-alcoholic beverage. Lastly, making a plan or setting realistic goals can motivate you to stay on track. [16]

Conclusion 


As the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day. Likewise, healthy habits may be hard to adopt. Plus, you can’t expect lightning-fast results or improvement in your heart’s function with just one or two days of changes.


Still, with a bit of patience and perseverance, you will be able to make lasting lifestyle modifications. Though it may cost you a lot of sweat and tears, your heart and body will thank you for it. In the long run, these lifestyle changes may make all the difference. Prevention is better than cure, and prevention starts with you. 


This article acts as a guide. It should not be a substitute for the advice given by your healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare professional if you have any concerns or doubts. 



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