By Delialah Falcon

Cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, is the leading killer among Americans. Preventing a heart attack is possible, but only by committing to a heart-healthy lifestyle. The American Heart Association suggests beginning on the road to better heart health around the age of 20. However, if you are at high risk for heart disease, you should assess your lifestyle and make adjustments in order to reduce your risk of having a heart attack. Prevention is extremely important given the fact that many initial heart attacks and strokes can be deadly or cause permanent damage. Here are some useful tips for preventing a heart attack.

Eat More Healthy Foods

Eating a healthy diet is a key component in the prevention of heart disease. The food that you choose to eat and the quantity of that food directly affects certain health factors including:

Cholesterol levels
Blood pressure
Body weight
Blood sugar

When deciding which foods you should eat, it is important to stay away from any foods that are high in fat and cholesterol, as well as foods that have poor nutritional values. Instead of eating those foods, try to build your diet around other nutrient-rich foods that contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. Choosing healthier food options is essential for preventing a heart attack. Here is a general list to help you get started:

Whole grains
Fiber rich foods
Lean meats
Low-fat dairy products

Eliminate Junk Food

Junk food, while it may taste good and be quick and easy to eat, is not good for your health. Your body requires proper nutrition to function correctly and adding junk food to your diet increases your risk factors for developing heart disease. Junk food can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Junk food contains many poor quality ingredients that can be detrimental to your health, including:

Excessive amounts of sodium
High amounts of cholesterol
High levels of fat
High levels of sugar
Excessive calories

Stay Active

Being physically active each day is an effective way to prevent heart disease and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Even if you are not active right now, it is never too late to start exercising. Even in small increments some physical activity is better than none at all. Research suggests that just 30 minutes of physical activity per day, at least 5 days out of the week can help to reduce your risk of many health issues and can directly benefit your body by:

Decreasing blood pressure levels
Lowering cholesterol levels
Maintaining a healthy weight

Maintain A Healthy Weight

The trick to maintaining a healthy weight is to be sure that you are getting enough physical activity to burn off the calories that you are taking in through food. Unfortunately, obesity is a serious problem in America not only among adults, but in children as well. It is important to strive for a balance of good nutrition and physical activity. Yo-Yo dieting and weight loss supplements are not healthy. By becoming aware of your caloric intake, eating nutrition-rich foods and engaging in physical activity, you can prevent obesity, which will decrease your risk for many health problems, including:

Heart attack
High blood pressure

Decrease Stress

We all experience stress in our lives, but if you don't manage your stress in a healthy way, you could be putting yourself at risk for a heart attack or other health problems. People who experience high levels of stress may overeat to cope, begin smoking or smoke excessively, or may be at risk of developing high blood pressure due to their daily reaction to stress. Try to deal with stressors in a more positive way, such as:

Thinking positively
Doing things that make you feel good
Using relaxation techniques

Limit Alcohol

If you drink alcohol, be sure not to overdo it. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. However, it is not recommended to begin drinking if you don't currently drink, or to increase the amount of alcohol you normally consume. Excessive drinking can lead to many health issues including:

High blood pressure
Heart failure
Irregular heartbeat
High triglycerides

Manage Diabetes

Managing your diabetes is extremely important in the prevention of a heart attack. People with diabetes are nearly 4 times more likely to develop a cardiovascular disease than non-diabetics. If you have diabetes, be sure to stay in the know and take responsibility for the management of your disease. It may be helpful for diabetics to:

Eat a balanced diet
Get adequate amounts of sleep
Have regular appointments with your doctor

Watch Your Blood Pressure

Treating your high blood pressure is an effective way to prevent a heart attack. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to a variety of problems, including heart disease and stroke. If you have high blood pressure, be sure to:

Avoid foods that are high in sodium
Refrain from adding salt to your food
Take medication to lower blood pressure

Take Your Medication As Prescribed

If you have any of the following conditions that require medication, it is crucial that you take your medications as prescribed. Not only will this help you keep these conditions in check, but it will also help with preventing a heart attack:

High blood pressure
High cholesterol
Previous heart attack

When blood flow and oxygen are restricted from the heart muscle, it is very likely that you may have a heart attack. Some people have heart attacks and survive, but others do not. It is important to take the steps necessary to prevent yourself from having a heart attack; especially if you are at risk. Simple changes to your diet and activity level, managing other medical conditions and taking your prescribed medications are all good ways to be heart healthy.


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