Sadly, 610,000 lives are lost per year due to heart disease, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – accounting for 1 of every 4 deaths (1).
While situations may vary, a balanced diet can certainly be beneficial in preventative heart health habits. However, in order to help people change their nutrition, it’s important to kindly share health education that can spark the desire to change.
Considering this can be a very sensitive and personal issue, we want to help provide a safe place to share some details about cardio health. Keep scrolling for prevention tips that you share with all the special hearts in your life.
From age to diet, there are many factors that increase your risk. Here are just a few of these factors based on research by the American Heart Association (AHA).
There’s no tip-toeing around it–tobacco smoking majorly increases the risk of many different health concerns, including cardiovascular concerns. On the other hand, smoking-related health conditions is probably the most preventable cause of death. That’s why quitting is a popular New Year’s resolution.
So, what makes smoking so bad? That would be the toxic chemicals, including butadiene, arsenic and formaldehyde. These chemicals can affect how the the bloodstream. Carbon dioxide and nicotine also wreak havoc on the body, decreasing the amount of oxygen that is carried around in your bloodstream. Instead, it can actually increase cholesterol and potentially damage arteries. Once that happens, a heart attack is more likely to occur.
The takeaway: don’t smoke.
Let’s get another semi-obvious answer out the way. Hitting the booze too much can deteriorate the body, so it’s no surprise that the cardiovascular system suffers as well. The AHA reports that drinking can increase triglycerides, which affects heart-rate. It’s also no surprise that constant drinking can contribute to other risk factors, including obesity. You can thank the excess sugar and other harmful additives.
You can drink on special occasions, but limit alcohol intake as much as you can. If you already have heart conditions, we suggest not drinking at all.
Age and Family History
Age and family both play a role as well. Unfortunately, both of these factors cannot be changed. However, you can live a healthier lifestyle to prevent major issues.
The AHA reports:
Most people who die a coronary heart disease are 65 and older.
Children whose parents have heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves.
Obesity and Being Overweight
The Cleveland Clinic reports that obesity can increase the risk of:
coronary artery disease
cardiovascular and heart issues
This might be something you already knew, because research is widely known. In fact, one 2018 study found that adults between 40 to 59-years-old who were overweight or obese had a significantly increased risk of developing heart and chest complications when compared to individuals at a “healthy” weight (2).
But how does being overweight contribute to these issues? Well, obesity increases the likelihood of having an increased amount of high blood lipids, triglycerides and cholesterol. This can contribute to high blood pressure, hypertension, an impaired metabolic syndrome and heart failure.
In order to figure out if your weight is affecting your cardiovascular issues, medical professionals may use your body mass index (BMI) and waist size. This is because both of these measurements can be associated with excess fat, which is another risk factor. Risks are higher for:
Individuals with a BMI of 25.9 or above
Men with a waist circumference of 40 inches or more
Women with a waist circumference of 35 inches or more
Other Health Concerns
Other health issues can increase risk of heart issues:
High blood pressure is a risk factor. While people who are obese have a higher likelihood of high blood pressure, it is not necessarily exclusive to those who are overweight. High blood pressure is thought to cause the heart muscle to be over worked and not function properly.
Diabetes is another factor. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) reports that high blood glucose can damage vessels and nerves. They also report that adults with the diabetes are twice as likely to die from a heart disease when compared to those without diabetes.
Poor diet can increase the likelihood of heart disease too. In fact, researchers from Tufts University in Boston, the University of Cambridge in England and the Montifiore Medical Center in New York analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. After sifting through data covering more than 700,000 deaths, researchers found that half of deaths caused by heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes were linked to poor diet (3).
Inflammation can also be a contributing factor to heart conditions. We know that inflammation is a natural process that occurs when your body is fighting off infection or some sort of foreign substance–this is what causes redness and soreness. Read more about that here.
What many don’t know though, is that constant or chronic inflammation can end up building up fat and plaque inside the arteries (atherosclerosis). It is sort of like a negative chain reaction. Harvard Health reports that this could lead to heart health concerns.
So, we’ve listed out a bunch of risk factors that may have you a little worried. But have no fear! Now, we will be going over easy, preventive measures that can help stave off complications:
Activity and Exercise
The AHA recommends weekly cardio activity–either 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of intense exercise. In particular, the health organization recommends aerobics:
But if that sounds like too much to handle, don’t worry. We all have to start somewhere. One of the best ways to manage activity is to ensure you spend less time sitting. So, if you like to sit and listen to your favorite podcast, why not take a little walk around while listening?
In addition, you can start off slow. Instead of hitting the treadmill hard for 75 minutes, why not start with a brisk walk around your block, eventually working your way up to a run?
A heart-healthy diet can help decrease your risk of disease. What might that lifestyle look like? Well, it’s not as complicated as you might think. It actually looks similar to a “standard” healthy diet.
The Mayo Clinic recommends:
Eating more veggies and fruit (fresh–not fried, or based in creamy sauces or sugary syrup)
Controlling portion size
Being selective with whole grains (stay away from high-fats or highly refined flours)
Reducing fat, trans fat and sodium
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet can also be effective, depending on your lifestyle. This lifestyle helps lower blood pressure, especially for those already dealing with high blood pressure.
The guidelines of the diet are very similar to that of preventing heart disease. The main difference is the serving size of each food group.
Incorporating holistic health essentials can also prove to be beneficial, especially for those dealing with chronic inflammation. For example, eating an anti-inflammatory or more “flexitarian” diet can also help decrease inflammation.
Our Healthy Inflammatory Response pack also provides Ayurvedic essentials that work together to help your body:
Apothe-Cherry: The antioxidants of the tart cherries can help with inflammation as well as joint recovery.
Super Xanthin: Astaxanthin helps reduce swelling and also joint pain.
Biome Medic: In a double-blind study, Biome Medic was proven to promote healthy levels of C-reactive by decreasing the inflammatory biomarker by 75%. Read more about how gut health affect heart heath here.
At the end of the day, it is best to consult with your physician and nutritionist to best devise a plan if you deal with heart conditions. Eating a preventative diet and being aware of risk factors can help you avoid complications.
Stay happy and healthy!
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CDC, NCHS. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2015. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2013, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program.
Khan SS, Ning H, Wilkins JT, et al. Association of Body Mass Index With Lifetime Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Compression of Morbidity. JAMA Cardiol. 2018;3(4):280–287. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2018.0022
Micha R, Peñalvo JL, Cudhea F, Imamura F, Rehm CD, Mozaffarian D. Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States. JAMA. 2017;317(9):912–924. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0947