Heart disease prevention should start early in life. There are identified factors that increase a person’s risk of coronary heart disease – a common term for the buildup of plaque in the arteries of the heart that could lead to heart attack. The sooner risk factors are known and managed, the better chances of leading a heart-healthy life.
Major risk factors that cannot be changed:
- Increasing age, gender (men have greater risk), heredity / family history and ethnicity.
Major risk factors that can be modified, treated or controlled:
- Tobacco smoke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity and overweight, diabetes mellitus.
Other factors that contribute to heart disease risk includes stress, excessive alcohol use and poor diet.
Prevent heart disease with smart choices
- Quit smoking. Risk of coronary heart disease is reduced to 50% just one (1) year after a person quits.
- Manage medical conditions – have cholesterol checked, monitor blood pressure, treat diabetes, take prescribed medicines and have regular follow-up consults with your doctor.
- Be physically active and maintain an ideal weight. Extra weight can cause high blood pressure, cholesterol problems and diabetes. There is also a study that suggests that having abdominal or belly fat even in normal-weight people have increased risk of heart disease.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. Aim for foods such as lean meats, fish fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid too much salt and sugars in your diet. Try to limit or avoid saturated fat and trans fat. Limit alcohol intake.
- Get enough quality sleep. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
- Manage stress through physical activity