Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for one out of every three deaths. The existence of a number of risk factors, such as tobacco usage, an unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity and alcohol use, hypertension, diabetes, and a high cholesterol level, is typically the cause of heart attacks and strokes.
It is never too late to start changing your lifestyle towards a healthier heart. Here are a few practical steps you can follow.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet:
A heart-healthy diet includes a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. It is important to reduce your salt consumption and stop using high-sodium condiments like soy sauce and ketchup to season your food. Processed, frozen, and fast food should be avoided. Sweetened sweets such as doughnuts, cookies, and the like should be replaced with fresh fruit and vegetables, and sweetened beverage sodas and sweetened juices should be replaced with water if thirsty.
- If overweight, lose weight
A body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher is considered overweight or obese. On the other hand, central obesity, also known as adiposity, is described as a waist circumference of more than 80 cm for women and more than 90 cm for men. A large waist circumference indicates more intra-abdominal fat and is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Reduce your daily calorie intake by 500 calories, which would result in an average weight loss of half to about one kilogramme per week.
- Increase regular physical activity to at least 2.5 hours per week
Physical exercise aids in the regulation of blood pressure, cholesterol, and other blood lipids, as well as weight loss. It is preferable to engage in any physical activity than to engage in none at all. Inactive people should begin with small amounts of physical activity (even as part of their daily routine) and gradually increase the length, frequency, and intensity of their workouts. Adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week (e.g., brisk walking, ascending stairs, dancing, gardening, or performing household chores that cause a slight rise in heart rate).
- Don’t use tobacco
Tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure are both hazardous to your heart. Quitting smoking is the greatest gift you can give your heart in terms of wellbeing, with immediate and long-term benefits such as living up to ten years longer. The risk of heart disease is around half that of a smoker after a year of stopping. Fifteen years after quitting, the risk of heart disease is the same as that of a non-smoker.
- Avoid consumption of alcohol
More than 200 illnesses and injuries have been attributed to alcohol use, including cardiovascular diseases. Since there is no such thing as a healthy level of alcohol consumption, it is best to avoid it entirely to protect your spirit.