Heart attacks are one of the leading forms of illness in the modern world. It hasn’t always been that way though. Our poor dietary habits and lack of exercise have contributed greatly to these statistics.
Let’s look at what causes a heart attack to occur and what you can do to lower your risk of a heart attack dramatically.
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack happens after a part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies due to oxygen starvation. Heart attacks usually begin with a blockage in one or more main arteries (blood vessels) that lead into the heart.
The most common cause is atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty deposits and plaque inside the arteries. Over time, as this buildup increases, the flow of blood is gradually reduced more and more until damage to the heart muscle causes a heart attack.
Another cause of heart attacks is from a blood clot in one of the main arteries, causing the same type of blockage. Blood clots are more likely to occur in areas of the artery where atherosclerosis has first narrowed the artery.
Risk factors that increase likelihood of a heart attack include:
- Family history of heart attacks
- Lack of exercise
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol level
Reducing your risk of a heart attack
The above list of risk factors give a roadmap of some ways to reduce your risk of having a heart attack. Let’s look at some of them to see what step you might take to lower your risk factor.
- Research your family history of heart attacks to see if you might be at an above average risk of having a heart attack.
- Research your family’s eating habits. You may find that they contribute to their propensity to heart attacks (if they do have a propensity for heart attacks).
- Quit smoking. That’s one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of heart attack, even though the act of quitting might be quite difficult.
- Control your blood sugar if you suffer from diabetes as not doing so can increase you likelihood of having a heart attack.
- Loose weight if you need to. Seek your doctor’s advice if you are unsure of your ideal weight.
- Try to get regular exercise, even if it’s only walking around your block two or three times a week.
- Try to control your blood pressure if you suffer from hypertension
- Try to eat a healthy diet most of the time. Obviously it can be hard to live on nothing by healthful food, however, anything you can do to reduce your fat and sugar intake and generally reduce your caloric intake can help. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is another key ingredient to good heart health.
One other form of prevention would be to ask your doctor if aspirin might be used to reduce your heart attack risk. Aspirin is a blood thinner, and helps in the prevention of blood clots forming in the arteries. However, taking drugs of any kind should be left as a last resort. If you implement some of the other steps first you probably won’t need to go this route.
As you can see, preventing a heart attack isn’t necessarily difficult, but it can take some personal control and willpower.
With fast food consumption, high sugar intake, and lack of daily exercise pretty much the norm in our society, heart attacks have become increasingly common. You can help yourself not become an added statistic by following some of the guidelines offered above.