Tips to Avoid the Risk of Heart Attack
Writer: Prof. Dr. Yavuz Besogul
There are steps you can take to protect yourself from the risk of a heart attack and prevent another one in the future. This is called “secondary prevention”. First, make sure you understand your heart disease. Your doctor will tell you about risk factors and how to help prevent future damage to your heart. Then follow the tips below for a healthy lifestyle.
Tobacco use is a major risk factor for heart disease. It damages the walls of blood vessels. It can prevent blood and oxygen from reaching your heart and other organs. It can also cause blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks. Nicotine, the main chemical in tobacco, raises your blood pressure. If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you make a quit plan. In addition to not smoking, avoid secondhand smoke. You can inhale smoke from a lit cigarette or when someone else exhales smoke.
Check your blood pressure
High blood pressure puts pressure on your heart and blood vessels. Talk to your doctor about ways to manage your blood pressure. This includes exercising, keeping a diet low in salt and losing weight if you are overweight. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to help control your blood pressure. It is important to follow your doctor's orders for all medications.
Check your cholesterol level
There are two types of cholesterol. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are “good” for you. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are “bad” for you. Too much “bad” cholesterol in your blood increases your risk of heart disease. If you have had a heart attack, your doctor will prescribe medications to help keep cholesterol levels under control. You should also eat a heart-healthy diet and start an exercise program.
Check for diabetes
Diabetes is a disease related to your insulin hormone levels. If your body does not produce any insulin, you may have Type 1 diabetes. If your body doesn't produce enough insulin or doesn't use it properly, you may have Type 2 diabetes. Having diabetes increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Talk to your doctor about diabetes screening. If you have diabetes, they can help you create a plan to manage your condition.
Regular cardio exercise can make your heart stronger. Examples include walking, jogging, jogging, cycling and swimming. Exercise helps your heart pump blood and deliver oxygen to your body. It may lower your cholesterol levels and blood pressure. It also reduces stress. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help you lose weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease. Losing just of your body weight can help reduce your risk. Talk to your doctor before starting or restarting exercise after a heart attack. They can monitor your activity and keep you on track.
Eat a healthy diet
The foods you eat affect your blood flow. A diet high in “bad” fats (saturated and trans fats) can cause buildup (plaque) in your arteries. Plaque slows or prevents blood flow to your heart. Over time, it can block your arteries and cause heart attack or heart failure. Include foods low in cholesterol and saturated fat in your diet. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eat less red meat and more white meat and fish. Eat less high-fat dairy products. Cut down on salt (sodium) and sugar. Avoid fried and processed foods.
Check your stress level
A heart attack can be scary and distressing. Consult your doctor about how to cope with your emotions. Depression and stress can increase your risk of heart disease.