Keys to maintaining a healthy heart

10 KEYS TO A HEALTHY HEART

To maintain a healthy heart, prevention is something as simple as eating healthy, controlling weight, and exercising.  We give you the keys to achieve it.

Keys to maintaining a healthy heart
 Cardiovascular diseases are pathologies typical of Western societies and although some of their risk factors are easily preventable, the global reach of this type of ailments is very high: they are the leading cause of mortality in the world, surpassing any type of cancer and  AIDS.  They usually do not produce symptoms until it is late and a heart attack or angina pectoris develops.

 Apart from the non-modifiable aspects, such as age, sex, genetic inheritance or diabetes, there are other risks to heart health whose negative effects we can avoid.  Prevention is the pending subject of cardiovascular health that is why we show you the 10 fundamental keys to having a healthy heart.

 WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

 A physically active lifestyle is associated with a reduction in the frequency and mortality of cardiovascular diseases.

 Eating a balanced diet can help reduce three of the main factors in heart disease: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess weight.

 From the age of 40, periodic medical check-ups are recommended, especially those with a family history of heart disease, hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and smoking.

 1. Practice physical exercise every day A physically active lifestyle is associated with a reduction in the frequency and mortality of cardiovascular diseases.  By improving the functioning of the cardiorespiratory system, having a beneficial effect on being overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes and hypercholesterolemia, it reduces the chances of the appearance of angina pectoris and myocardial infarction.  In addition, it has very important psychological effects, which help to control stress and increase mental well-being.

What can cause unintended weight loss?

 Physical activity has been found to be beneficial for both sexes and all age groups, as long as it is practiced regularly, regardless of when it is started, indicating that it is never too late to reap its benefits.

 The most recommended exercise is of the aerobic type: running, walking with energy, swimming, or cycling.  And studies show that it should be done at least three times a week for 30 minutes to strengthen the heart.  Ultimately, it is about acquiring, and above all maintaining, the habit of doing physical activity regularly.

 2. Follow a healthy and balanced diet Following healthy eating habits can help reduce three of the main factors involved in heart disease: high cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess weight.  Thus, it is possible to reduce cardiovascular risk with just a few dietary changes.  and keep your heart healthy.

 Heart-healthy habits include limiting your daily consumption of salt and alcohol.  In addition, the diet should consist mainly of fruits, vegetables, cereals, lean meats and fish.

 It is advisable to reduce the consumption of fat (especially saturated fat) and cholesterol (fatty red meats, whole milk, cheeses made with whole milk, eggs, cream-based dishes and desserts that contain a lot of fat), and prioritize the fat that comes from  olive oil, nuts and oily fish, for their benefits on the cardiovascular system.

 The fiber contribution (whole grains, legumes, fruits) is also very important.

 3. Stop smoking Tobacco is one of the main factors that can be avoided and modified to reduce the onset of heart disease.

 Smoking has a harmful effect on the cardiovascular system, increases the risk of thrombosis and causes a reduction in the caliber of the coronary arteries, making it difficult for the heart to flow.  Therefore, it is essential to actively avoid tobacco as well as passive smoking (smoking environments).

 Smoking can be very difficult to quit.  A clear will to quit is required and in many cases good medical-psychological counseling is required.  It may be useful to consult with a specialized tobacco addiction unit to obtain the various treatment options.

 In people who relapse again after periods without stopping smoking or when characteristic symptoms appear due to the withdrawal of tobacco especially, they should be advised by a professional.  If on the first try, after a season without smoking, you relapse again it does not matter.  In many cases, smokers have to try more than once to succeed.

 4. Limit alcohol Moderate alcohol consumption (one to two glasses of red wine a day) has been linked to a decrease in cardiovascular disease.  However, it is proven that alcohol abuse is harmful to health.

 Various studies have described a relationship between excessive alcohol consumption and the appearance of cardiovascular diseases, therefore, it is advisable to moderate its consumption and limit it to a glass of red wine to accompany meals.

 5. Maintain an optimal weight Various studies have shown that obesity aggravates heart problems due to overstressing the heart, predisposes to hypertension, coronary heart disease, strokes, favors the onset of type 2 diabetes ... as well as other diseases  such as pulmonary and osteoarticular that are also affected by the overload to which they are subjected.

 Approximately 40% of the incidence of coronary heart disease is attributed to a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25. That is why it is essential that each person know their BMI and act accordingly, especially if they are older than  20 years.  BMI is calculated by dividing weight (in kilos) by the square of height (in meters).

 If the result is higher than 30, it means that we are facing a clear case of obesity, so it will be important to start slowly and lose weight, since the risk of suffering a cardiovascular accident is significantly reduced.

 6. Do pleasant activities and eliminate stress Stress is another factor that can affect the heart.  You are more likely to have a heart attack during times of stress because your heart races and blood pressure rises.  When this happens, the heart needs more oxygen.  This is not to say that stress causes cardiovascular disease, but it does seem that it can aggravate them.

 It is therefore important to find moments for relaxing and pleasant activities, such as walks, yoga, etc.  and also being able to stick to reasonable work schedules that allow us to enjoy free time and disconnect from daily work stress.

 7. Control diabetes In people with diabetes, tight control of their blood glucose (sugar) levels prevents what are known as complications of diabetes in which, basically, the high glucose level maintained causes deterioration  of the body's arteries, mainly affecting organs such as the heart, brain, kidneys and vision.

 In addition, there are other known cardiovascular risk factors that are frequently associated with diabetes, especially type 2. They are: obesity, especially abdominal predominance, very common in diabetic women;  and arterial hypertension, the appearance of which usually increases in women from 40-50 years of age.  All this makes it very necessary to periodically control sugar in women.

 With good control of the disease (drugs and adequate diet) the quality of life and prognosis of patients with diabetes can clearly be improved.

 It is recommended to test the glucose level in the blood once every three years from the age of 40, with the aim of detecting diabetes early and reducing the risk of cardiovascular accidents and premature death.  In Spain, the prevalence of diabetes is around 14%.  However, almost half of the cases are not diagnosed.

 8. Monitor blood pressure Hypertension is the elevation, maintained over time, in systolic blood pressure (known as the maximum) and / or diastolic (known as the minimum).  It usually does not give any symptoms but it is important to detect and treat it because it is related to potentially serious heart diseases such as heart failure and myocardial infarction.

 Hypertension is considered when blood pressure figures are above 140 / 90mmHg.

 You should see a doctor regularly to control the figures and if they appear high, it is important to follow a series of hygienic dietary measures (exercise, lose weight, limit salt) as well as the pharmacological treatment that is indicated.

 9. Keep cholesterol at bay Excess cholesterol in the blood accumulates on the walls of the arteries, contributing to the process of arteriosclerosis.  Hypercholesterolemia is considered to be total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg / dl and hypercholesterolemia is a determining factor in the appearance of cardiovascular disease.

 It has been shown that people with blood cholesterol levels of 240 have twice the risk of suffering a heart attack than those with figures of 200. Also, high cholesterol does not cause symptoms and only its consequences do.  Current health measures are aimed at primary prevention, that is, to avoid high cholesterol levels and thus reduce the risk of these pathologies before cardiovascular disease appears.

 Prevention is as simple as eating healthy, controlling weight, and exercising.  When required, a wide variety of drugs are currently available to regulate cholesterol levels.

 10. Get regular medical check-ups From the age of 40 it is recommended to carry out regular check-ups.  This is especially important in people with risk factors such as a family history of heart disease, hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and smoking.

 The performance of a laboratory test and a medical examination can reveal the presence of diseases related to cardiovascular risk (hypertension, diabetes) when they have not yet manifested themselves.

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