Even though we are passionate about brain health and motivated around osteoporosis, heart diseases and stroke is the main cause of death for one of three Canadians every year. This statistic should catch our attention more than some unknown viral conditions and other causes that are not that serious.
So what are the risks, and how can we prevent developing heart diseases?
An Unhealthy Lifestyle and Diet is the Cause of Most Diseases
The first undeniable truth is that smoking kills. Even one to two cigarettes per day doubles the risk of heart attack, and there is no safe lower limit. Therefore, quitting smoking is the most vital heart health action you can take.
Hypertension or high blood pressure (BP) is known to be killing in silence as there are no symptoms, except for a sudden change in levels, such as very high or very low. You can take the BP at a pharmacy, or you can acquire a home cuff and machine to measure it yourself.
Even though the numbers may differ, overall, the ideal level is 140/90 or lower. It varies according to the age and situation, but controlling the BP is crucial.
Hyperlipidemia or high cholesterol means that there is too much fat in your blood. Mainly it is because of the diet you are following, such as eating fatty foods or animal products, approximately 30 percent. There’s also the possibility that your liver generates too much cholesterol, but avoiding animal fats would somehow help, even though in small measure.
There are good, as well as bad elements to cholesterol, the high-density lipoproteins (HDL), and the low-density lipoproteins (LDL). People with basic risks, such as a prior heart attack or diabetes, need that LDL to be overly low so they have a decreased risk of another heart attack. Therefore, either through diet, exercise, or weight loss, lowering cholesterol decreases the risk.
Let’s Make Some Good Choices
Diet, weight, and exercise are three fundamental behaviors that do wonders, irrelevant to the health condition. Those who are at an ideal weight, exercising on a daily basis, and eating an overall healthy diet are less prone to suffer from a heart attack or stroke.
An occasional indulgence is fine, but what is not healthy at all is when the indulgence becomes a day-to-day habit. We are prone to have a rather sedentary life, in comparison to other regions of the world. We would rather drive than walk, sit at a desk all day and then go home, most likely grabbing fast food on the way. This is what a hectic life looks like. However, hectic does not mean aerobic.
Therefore, it is recommended to make some good and healthy choices, become more active on a regular basis, perhaps meeting a friend for an exercise, dance class or yoga, and even for a hike.
For more information, this issue is detailed in the book ‘A Woman’s Guide to Healthy Aging’ by Dr. Vivien Brown. There is also a great and helpful guide written by Dr. Beth Abramson, called ‘Heart Health for Canadians.’ Dr. Beth Abramson is a well-known cardiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.