Considering the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in Canada, and the dangers of it, people are urged to do everything possible to promote heart health. There are many factors that contribute to heart health, including uncontrollable factors such as heredity and controllable risk factors such as diet and exercise habits. While we cannot change our family histories, there are many healthy steps everyone can take to reduce their risk.
Besides taking active lifestyle steps to improve cardiovascular health, it is also important to know your family medical history, especially of cardiovascular disease and stroke. This information will be important to any physicians who are involved in your health care, and it can be used to help compile a coronary risk profile. The coronary risk profile is a tool developed by the American Heart Association that helps people calculate their long-term risk for suffering a heart attack. It takes into account both uncontrollable and controllable risk factors.
The controllable factors of maintaining heart health include diet and exercise. A balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and lean protein is important for overall heart health. Diets that are high in unhealthy fats, such as saturated and trans fats, are linked to elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which are closely associated with increased risk for heart attack. By contrast, a high-fiber, low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with higher levels of protective cholesterol and reduced risk for heart attack. Adequate intake of vitamins and minerals can also help the heart.
The importance of regular exercise for heart health cannot be overstated. Exercise has wide-ranging and profound benefits. It has been shown to help lower blood pressure, reduce body fat and lessen the risk of diabetes, which all work to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition, exercise directly strengthens the heart muscle. New guidelines unveiled by government health agencies recommend that people get between 60 and 90 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Remember to move more for your hearts sake!
Other controllable factors include certain lifestyle factors. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake each can improve the likelihood of heart health. Remember to speak with your physician before starting a new exercise regimen.