Heart disease is any kind of disease affecting the heart. Heart diseases are especially common, and they are the leading cause of death in the developed countries, including the United States. Only among Americans, heart disease accounts for about 15 percent of total deaths each year. Heart diseases are also known as cardiopathy or cardiovascular disease. This umbrella term may refer to any of the various heart diseases such as coronary artery disease, problems with heart rhythm, infections of the heart and certain congenital heart defects (heart problems a person is born with). Certain types of heart diseases are hard to prevent, especially if a person is born with a heart defect. However, simple lifestyle changes can improve one’s chances of long and healthy living, and lessen the possibility of heart diseases. Here are some basic guidelines on making healthy choices in life and preventing heart diseases.
Healthy diet is probably one of the most important features in a healthy lifestyle. To lessen the risk of heart disease, people should consume meals low in saturated and trans fats, high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and low in salt and sugar. This means eating a lot of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil, and restraining from certain types of meats, processed and deep-fried foods, sugars and baked goods. People should consume moderate amounts of dairy products and alcoholic beverages. Red wine in moderate amounts is especially recommended for lowering the risk of heart diseases.
Being physically active is very important for overall health. People can largely benefit from only 20 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. Exercise can easily be incorporated into the everyday life. For example, people should try to use stairs instead of elevators, whenever they can. Similarly, people are advised to take a walk instead of using transportation, do the lawn on their own, or to encourage physical activity as doing it as a family.
Smoking raises risk of coronary heart disease and the first step in prevention is to quit smoking. People should also try to avoid secondhand smoke and seek professional help if they have trouble quitting smoking on their own.
Stress is another important factor in prevention of heart diseases. People should try to develop working mechanisms for coping with problems they have, learn how to relax and manage stress, and improve their overall emotional and physical help. People are encouraged to share their worries and concerns with the others and try to follow simple relaxing routines such as yoga, meditation or breathing exercises.