Heart attack is the number one killer worldwide in both men and women. Moreover, the figures are mounting. It seems anybody and everybody are susceptible to this killer disease. Knowing ways to prevent a heart attack gains much importance in view of these alarming statistics. Follow the prescribed lifestyle and a heart-healthy diet and you can substantially reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
In the United States, someone suffers a heart attack every 34 seconds and there is a death from heart-related illnesses every second.
Measures to prevent heart disease should begin early in life at a young age. However, this rarely happens. Even if you are over 40 or 50 years of age and more so with risk factors, you must adopt these simple comprehensive risk-reducing measures to keep your heart strong and pumping efficiently.
If you are reading this post, it becomes your obligation to spread this information among your family and friends.
Following the ways to prevent a heart attack naturally will help you lower and avoid the risk factors, which are responsible for a heart attack. The last thing anybody would want is that symptom of pain in the chest.
The first and foremost thing one should have is the motivation to keep these measures your lifelong companions. One way to do it is to read this post on complications that can arise after a heart attack, most of which can be fatal.
How do you prevent a heart attack?
1. Disciplined lifestyle habits
Lifestyle factors aim to prevent heart blockage or rather the blockage of the arteries so that heart blood supply stays uninterrupted. They will help to prevent a heart attack from happening at any age and not just when you are young.
These habits, which you should incorporate into your lifestyle, improve the health of your heart and the blood vessels, which stay patent and provide optimum blood supply to the body including the heart. This significantly lowers the possibility of suffering from a heart attack.
2. Avoid smoking
Avoid smoking or use of tobacco products because the nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco smoke cause hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels. Secondly, the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke is absorbed in the blood.
These factors cause the heart to pump harder and faster in order that the body tissues get sufficient blood and oxygen. This leads to high blood pressure, which can cause a heart attack.
3. Know your alcohol limits
If you have to drink, ensure that you drink alcohol in moderation. Men should not exceed two pegs and women should not exceed one peg. (One peg = 60 ml). It would be best to avoid it altogether as there is a tendency to go beyond the prescribed limits.
4. Maintaining your weight
Maintaining your weight is important. Excess weight or obesity indicates excess fats in the body. Obesity is a strong predisposing factor to diabetes, hypertension, and increased blood cholesterol levels. All three are high-risk factors for a heart attack. It is necessary to lose weight if you are carrying any excess of it.
5. Regular medical checkups
Regular medical check-ups help to detect any beginning or presence of any underlying disease. This will help in finding and nipping in the bud any disease before it can cause any complications.
For example, diabetes, hypertension, or high blood cholesterol levels, if detected, can be controlled in the initial stages and their complications like a heart attack can be averted.
6. Drink adequate water to prevent a heart attack
Drinking the recommended eight glasses of water protects your heart and significantly reduces the risk of heart disease. Drinking adequate water daily has tremendous benefits all around on your health.
A study carried out at the Loma Linda University in California was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, which shows that women who drank more than five glasses of water every day were 41 percent at a lesser risk of dying from a heart attack than women who drank less than two glasses of water.
This protective action of water is more pronounced in men. Drinking adequate water reduced the risk in men by 54 percent.
Drinking large amounts of other liquids such as tea, coffee, juice, milk, and alcohol doubled the risk of dying from a heart attack.
How does drinking water prevent a heart attack?
Experts say that water is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and thins the blood. This prevents the clotting of blood and clogging of the arteries.
With other fluids, it is not so because they require to be digested, which may force fluids from the blood to move into the digestive tract creating a blood-thickening effect.
7. Get a good night’s sleep
Most deaths from cardiac arrests occur between 6 AM and 10 AM. This happens due to a short circuit in the electrical activity of the heart’s electrical conduction system. This is caused by the irregular beating of the heart (arrhythmias) and is seen in people who are at a higher risk of a heart attack.
Such people are those who have the following conditions:
- a family history of a heart attack
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol levels
- sleep apnea
- are overweight or obesity
- are smokers
- are alcoholics
- people with a history of a previous heart attack
All people and especially those with the conditions mentioned above should ensure that they get the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily at night. A shortened sleep, which is less than 6 hours, increases your risk of a heart attack.
In 2011 European Heart Journal reviewed the results of 15 medical studies and found that short time sleepers have about a 50 percent increased risk of developing coronary artery disease.
The correlation between lack of sleep and heart disease is not yet completely understood, but the fact remains that lack of sleep does increase the risk of heart disease. Getting good sleep, therefore, is essential.
8. Diet to prevent heart attack
This is a diet, which keeps the heart attack risk factors away. You should also read about the “dash diet”, which is advocated for people suffering from hypertension or who are prone to it.
- Low-fat dairy products such as skimmed milk and low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese
- Whole grains and cereals
- High fiber leafy vegetables such as cabbage, spinach
- All types of fruits
- Legumes such as beans, peas, lentils, and nuts
- Restricted use of foods containing saturated fats like tard, butter, coconut oils, palm oil, cottonseed oil, and ghee
- Foods should contain mono and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil, and flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil prevents the red blood cells from clumping together and forming clots, which are precursors of a heart attack.
- Eat white meat instead of red meat like chicken and fish without skin.
- Low calorie and low sugar foods are advocated
- Brown rice instead of white rice
Do vitamins prevent a heart attack? There is no direct evidence to suggest that they do. The American Heart Association does not advise that vitamin C and E should be taken specifically to prevent a heart attack.
There is some limited evidence to suggest a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and heart disease, but as mentioned it is limited and more research needs to be done.
9. Exercise – the wonder drug
A regular daily exercise program prevents you from getting a heart attack. It reduces the risk of heart attack by 45%.
Regular physical activity, especially of the aerobic type benefits your heart in the following way:
- Your heart muscle strengthens leading to better functioning of the heart.
- It helps to lower blood pressure. Studies show that regular exercise reduces systolic blood pressure by about 4 mm of mercury and diastolic by 2.5 mm of Hg.
- Exercise increases HDL (the good cholesterol) levels and lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
- Due to a stronger heart, blood flow is augmented throughout the body due to increased elasticity of the blood vessels. This greatly reduces the risk of clot formation.
10. Treatment of any underlying diseases
If you have diabetes, hypertension, or elevated cholesterol blood levels you should regularly monitor these conditions and take treatment religiously. Follow up with your physician regularly as and when required. This will go a long way to preventing a heart attack. A disciplined lifestyle can give you a lifespan beyond the average one.
Most heart attacks happen in the morning between 6 to 10 AM. However, if you are apprehensive about suffering from a heart attack at night when the heart is at rest, then you have to rule out sleep apnea. It has adverse effects on the heart.
To prevent heart attack at night, you have to treat your sleep apnea first and in such cases, the person is advised to take a tablet of baby aspirin at night. It has a 24-hour “half-life” and its effect is strong even during morning hours. Aspirin prevents a heart attack and stroke by thinning the blood and preventing clot formation.