8 Ways to Lower Your Risk of Having a Heart Attack
Some people think there isn't much you can do about your risk of having a heart attack, especially if heart disease runs in your family. Fortunately, those people are wrong. I like to say "having a loaded gun doesn't mean you have to pull the trigger." Having a family history of heart disease is the loaded gun and your lifestyle is the trigger- and you have a choice of whether or not you want to set off that gun. There are many natural ways to lower and prevent heart attacks without drugs or surgery. These do more than benefit just your heart health too!
1. Maintain a healthy weight
The more you weigh, the more wear and tear you put on your body, including the heart. If your BMI is over 30, this easily increases your heart risk by 10 fold. As we all know it's easier said than done when it comes to maintaining our weight. As a Chiropractic Physician and Lifestyle nutritionist, I recommend a multidimensional approach to this problem: eat better, move better, and think better. These are the 3 basic pillars of health.
2. Move more
As one of our pillars, regular exercise improves heart health and circulation. It can also help you lose weight. Current recommendations are 3 days a week of aerobic activity, exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes each session. This raises the heart rate, burns calories, and gives you more energy! Plus, you should include two 30- 60 minute strength-training sessions such as high intensity interval training (or as we like to call it- Functional Fitness).
3. Change your diet
If you are having trouble changing your diet you may want to consider some nutritional counseling or nutritional coaching. A diet too high in carbohydrates can be dangerous. Carbs have been linked to Type 2 diabetes and even Alzheimer’s. Those with diabetes have a much greater risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular issues. Replace those carbs with healthy fats like, avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fatty fish, protein and vegetables. For the record, the most recent studies show eating cholesterol does not elevate your cholesterol. So eat those eggs for breakfast as they are a great source of protein!
4. Know your Cholesterol Numbers
We say "what gets measured gets managed". Cholesterol is a natural substance produced by the liver that helps form cell membranes, hormones, and bile acids. However, cholesterol in our blood can lead to hardening of the arteries. As the arteries harden and get narrower, the blood supply can get cut off to vital parts of the body such as the heart or brain, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Know your numbers, what they mean, and which heart-healthy foods you should add to your diet. You should have your lab drawn at least once a year if you have no current health problems. You may even need it more frequently if an issue occurs so you and your Chiropractor can track it.
5. Deal with High Blood Pressure (HBP)
High blood pressure causes wear and tear on blood vessel walls. This is the true silent killer. The best way to deal with this blood pressure is again to know your numbers. I cannot stress how dangerous it is that someone doesn't know their numbers! It's like a student loan: you're just sitting there in your grace period, accruing interest daily until that principal is capitalized (possible cardiac event), and the preparation for that moment and the time after is literally the difference between and good and a poor life. If your numbers are elevated, lifestyle changes will help lower those risk factors as well.
6. Eat a low-sodium diet
Too much sodium can trigger weight gain and high blood pressure. We insist on switching to pink Himalayan salt. It's a much healthier way to consume salt without the health risks. A quick trick to measuring sodium is to make your calories in a food item = to the mg of sodium. For example a can of beans may have 957mg of sodium and 70 calories, not good... but frozen or fresh beans may have 10mg of sodium and 70 calories, a much heart healthy choice!
7. Stop smoking
If you smoke tobacco, stop. It is associated with heart disease, lung disorders, and a number of different types of cancer. Easier said than done, right? There are many avenues to help with this and starting now can greatly decrease your risk for all of the above. There are actually few choices that can effect a person's life as the one to stop smoking. More energy, clearer head space, better sleep, less risk of hundreds of ailments, and a longer life expectancy. We can help hold you accountable for this!