7 steps to good heart health

There is no end to the discussion on the effects of lifestyle habits on health. Lifestyles, you may agree, are the cause and cure of heart disease.

The disease is now striking young people in India affecting the most productive years of their lives. Treatment options are expensive and not affordable by a lot of people. It is more sensible, therefore, to prevent heart attacks by correcting our wrong lifestyle habits. Follow these seven steps and watch yourself progress towards better health with a strong heart.

1. Eat healthy food – Include at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day and avoid saturated fat. Processed foods contain high levels of salt, so cut them out of your diet.

2. Be physically active – 30 minutes of activity per day can help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

3. Quit smoking – The risk of coronary heart disease will be reduced in half in a year’s time if you stop  smoking and you will return to the zero-risk category over time.

4. Keep your weight in check – Do all it takes to maintain a healthy weight – obesity accounts for a major number of heart attacks. Reduce salt intake to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major factor for approximately 50% of all heart disease.

5. Get a regular health check up – Get your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels monitored. Also, keep track of your waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index (BMI). Knowledge of the overall risk helps you plan a specific course of action to improve your heart health.

6. Limit alcohol intake – Restrict the amount of alcoholic drinks that you consume. Excessive alcohol intake can cause your blood pressure to rise and your weight to increase.

7. Learn to relax – When the mind is stressed, there is a rise in the pulse rate and blood pressure. This high rate of pressure strains the heart. Try to relax mentally through meditation, yoga and music — this will go a long way in protecting your heart.

While you should be aware of the risk factors for heart attacks, don’t you think it’s time to focus on the positive side of cardiac health?
Image: AFP

Also see: Eat your heart out