Could your busy lifestyle lead to a heart attack?

Could Your Busy Lifestyle Lead to Heart Problems?

Melissa Annabelle Lawson by Melissa Annabelle Lawson on Jan 19, 2016
Why you should care

Don’t think that you’re not at risk just cause you’re young.

No, heart attack doesn’t just happen to older people.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is when blood flow to the heart stops, causing muscle death and triggering a heart attack (a symptom of CHD).

Are YOU At Risk?

One in four female deaths is caused by coronary heart diseases yearly. In Malaysia, The National Heart Association reports that women are 2.5 times more prone to fatal heart diseases and strokes than all cancers combined. What’s more worrying is that 64% of sudden deaths caused by CHD reported no prior symptoms.

What Are The Risk Factors?

Women aged 65 and below and those with a family history of heart diseases need be careful of the following risk factors:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Mental stress & depression
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Low levels of oestrogen

How Do I Reduce My Risk of Heart Diseases?

1 Eat cleaner

Clean Diet
If done gradually, this isn’t hard to do. Avoid deep frying your meats and seafood as deep fried foods are as dangerous for your heart as they are delicious to your palette. A recommended diet is one that has low levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt, with high fibre content. A healty diet like this helps to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol. This doesn’t mean that you should never touch another piece of fried chicken, but bake your foods with olive oil and a dash of herbs every once in a while – those taste really good too.

Try eating more raw nuts, olive oil, avocados,  and whole grain breads and pasta. Instead of full cream milk, go for skim or 1% milk and instead of fatty cheeses, try the low- or non-fat ones. Avoid processed foods, white breads, sugary cereals, refined pastas or rice, red meat, bacon, sausage, and carbonated drinks which contain high levels of sugar.

2 Exercise more

Exercising regularly can help lower your risk of heart diseases. Setting aside 30 minutes or more daily for a brisk walk or jog can help you lose weight, improve cholesterol levels, and lower your blood pressure significantly. If you don’t fancy yourself to be a fitness buff, start easy by turning your social sessions into exercise opportunities; like waking your dog, cycling with the family, or swimming with friends.

Exercise helps your heart muscle become more efficient at pumping blood throughout your body. Your heart pushes out more blood with each beat, allowing it to beat slower, keep your blood pressure under control.

3 Quit smoking

Quit Smoking
This one’s an obvious red light. Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, which in turn increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Smoking damages the lining of your arteries, leading to a build-up of plaque which narrows the artery. This causes angina, a heart attack, or a stroke. The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke also reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, forcing your heart to pump harder.

Bad news is, inhaling second hand smoke is just as dangerous. Research shows that exposure to second hand tobacco smoke is one of the causes of heart disease in non-smokers. So put that bud out for your friends and family, and for yourself.

4 Manage stress

Stress is a daily part of life. Stress raises your blood pressure and floods your body with stress hormones which are detrimental over time. Studies have also linked stress to changes in the way blood clots, which increases the risk of a heart attack.

The way you handle stress also matters. If you respond to it in unhealthy ways such as smoking, overeating, or not exercising; it becomes a vicious cycle for your body. On the other hand, if you exercise, connect with people, and find time to relax, your mind and body will thank you.

5 Control Your Weight

Weight Control
This one goes side by side with exercise: a moderate body weight is vital for a healthy heartbeat. Those who have extremely high body max index (30 and above) are more at risk of heart diseases. Generally, you should aim for a BMI of 18.5 – 24.9.

What Are The Warning Signs?

The most common heart attack symptom in women is some type of pain, pressure, or discomfort in the chest. Other subtle signs you should be on the lookout for are neck, jaw, shoulder, upper-back, or abdominal discomfort. Besides that, shortness of breath, pain in the right arm, nausea or vomiting, sweating, light-headedness or dizziness, and unusual fatigue are also tell-tale signs.

Constant Vigilance

With the stressors of work and our fast-paced lives, it’s too easy to get too caught up in work and put health in the backseat. That’s why it’s important to take deliberate steps (even if they start small) towards healthier lifestyles. Always be alert of what your body is telling you – take a chill pill every now and then!

Why you should care

Don’t think that you’re not at risk just cause you’re young.

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