When cholesterol-containing deposits (plaque) get accumulated in your arteries and an inflammation occurs in the passage restricting the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart, it may lead to Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). This debilitating disease is the leading cause of death all across the globe. One of the biggest contributors to CAD is the lack of healthy lifestyle.
You can reduce the modifiable risk factors for CAD by following these 7 simple steps:
It is the most important thing that you can do to lower your CAD risk. It is difficult to quit but is much better than a premature death caused by a sudden heart attack. Seek medical help if needed, ask your friends and family for support to quit.
Control the silent killers early
The three big CAD risk factors — hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol level – are all termed as silent killers. They can exist for years damaging you from within but without producing a single symptom. So get yourself tested at least once every year to know your blood pressure, blood lipid, and blood sugar levels. Lifestyle modifications can control these diseases in the early stages but you may have to take medicines to control them. Consult a Cardiologist.
Watch your weight and waist
Maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). Ideally, the BMI should be maintained between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2. Another important body measurement is your waist size. Waist size more than 35 inches in women or more than 40 inches in men indicates an increased risk for CAD.
Get at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity
Start slowly and if you feel comfortable, build it up gradually. Do not look at exercise as a short-term measure. Aim to stay active for your whole life. Else you will lose the fitness you gained and all the benefits it brings.
Improve your diet
Incorporate these modifications in your eating habits:
Eat at least five servings of fresh fruit or vegetables every day.
Limit salt intake to less than 1 teaspoon (5 grams) each day.
Eat more fiber-rich foods like beans, lentils, peas, oats, fruits, and vegetables.
Limit fatty foods, especially saturated fats and trans-fats which increase “bad” cholesterol in your blood.
Include sources of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet such as a small handful of walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, or almonds a day.
Limit alcohol intake
Two alcoholic drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women is enough. However, the best health practice is to completely avoid alcoholic drinks.
Bust that stress
If you often find yourself overwhelmed by stress, make a deliberate effort to relax for some time every day. Indulge in your hobby, visit a friend, or simply watch a favorite TV show. But learn to give a ‘me-time’ to yourself.
Dr. Vishesh Rohatgi is a Cardiologist and Head of the Medical Content team. He is an extensive reader and writer. He has a special interest in doing social service and is working with different NGOs in his hometown. His articles have been published in various national and international journals.
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