One of the number one silent killers in the United States is heart disease. Cardiovascular diseases range in their causes, but the end result, heart attacks, are always devastating. There are many factors that can determine whether a person will develop heart disease, including age, diet, genes and blood pressure.
Thankfully, modern science has given us vital information that can help us prevent heart disease and heart attacks. Sure, we’ve all heard that diet and exercise are the primary ways to prevent said disease but, in some cases (especially when genetics and blood pressure are factors), the human body may need a little extra help reducing that chance.
Here are five ways you didn’t know could help you reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attacks:
When people picture the consequences of smoking , they may picture someone dying of lung cancer. Sure, lung cancer is one of the many devastating risks of smoking, but so is heart disease. The chemicals in tobacco work against your body to damage both your heart and vessels, shredding through your cardiovascular system and blocking blood circulation.
Along with these harmful chemicals, nicotine makes your heart work harder by narrowing blood vessels and increasing blood pressure. If you’re at risk for heart disease, it is a good idea to consider quitting.
Manage Your Stress Levels
Whether it’s having to rush against a deadline or taking care of your kids at home, we have all felt the burden of stress. We get flushed and our heart rate speeds up dramatically. Unfortunately, stress can have pretty severe side effects, one of which includes a higher risk for heart attacks.
When you’re stressed, your body begins to run on adrenaline and cortisol, both of which help increase your heart rate. The more and longer you feel stressed, the more your body will release these chemicals, keeping your blood pressure at a constant high. By managing your stress levels, you’ll be able to control the levels of hormones released into your bloodstream, thus decreasing your blood pressure and giving your heart a break from over pumping.
Research Your Family Medical History
Genes could be a major factor in determining whether, at some point in your life, you’ll develop heart disease. Before your next medical screening or check-up, make sure you research your family’s medical history all the way back to your grandparents (if you have that information). This will help your physician get an idea of which preventative treatments to use. If heart disease is prevalent in your family, you may also want to ask these family members which drugs haven’t worked for them since drug resistance is also a hereditary trait. Also, make regularly scheduled health screenings with your doctor.
If your family has had cases of heart attacks, it always helps to be prepared. A person with cardiovascular issues might carry with them a heart attack safety kit, which often includes a defibrillator and a Philips HeartStart battery . Make sure to always keep these in hand if you or one of your family members has heart disease or is prone to heart attacks.
Aspirin is known to be a blood thinner. Since 1998, the FDA has advised people that are at risk of heart attacks to maintain a regiment of aspirin dosages. In low doses, it can help prevent clotting by thinning out red blood cells in plaque, vascular environments. The FDA suggests a dose of about 75-81 milligrams of aspirin a day.
Most people can probably get behind sleeping more to decrease the possibility of a heart attack. According to a 10-year study conducted by Harvard University, out of the people that participated, people that slept less than five hours a night had a 40 percent higher risk of developing heart disease. The study found that, ideally, the human body needs at least eight hours of sleep per night in order for it to effectively regulate the cardiovascular system.
It’s always better to be overly prepared than not prepared at all. By putting into practice these tips, you’ll be able to significantly reduce your chances of developing heart disease and extending your lifespan considerably.