Heart disease remains a major cause of death yet there is much that you can do to prevent it. By this I don’t mean just taking tablets for cholesterol at a cost of billions of dollars. Some of the things may look obvious, whilst others may surprise you.
Here are ten simple tips on heart health.
1) Follow a Mediterranean diet. Rates of heart disease are lower in countries around the Mediterranean Ocean where they eat vegetables, fish, garlic, olive oil and drink a little red wine whilst going easy on red meat. You do not have to live in Europe to have these principles in your diet.
2) Eat Tomatoes. The red color of the tomato is due to lycopene. This has been shown to be a strong anti oxidant and research has also shown it helps lower blood pressure and C-reactive protein, which is a marker for, increased risk of heart disease.
3) Laugh. The blood vessels in volunteers shown funny videos who and were laughing were found to have relaxation of blood vessels. This helps lower blood pressure. You also cannot be stressed when you are laughing so find stuff to laugh at. It is there if you look.
4) Eat fiber. It has long been known that fiber is good for the bowel. Eating a diet rich in fiber also helps keep your heart healthy.
5) Do some regular exercise. Whether it is walking, running or swimming it does not matter. Fitness reduces your chances of heart problems and that is independent of its benefits on weight.
6) Get some sunshine. The importance of vitamin D in health is an expanding field. People with low vitamin D levels are more susceptible to heart disease. The best form of vitamin D is free from the sun. Get around 10 minutes a few days per week-not enough to burn.
7) Eat chocolate. This will be popular. Polyphenols in dark chocolate help to increase your good cholesterol and lower the bad. Previous studies have even suggested that a small intake of chocolate helped people who have had a heart attack recover a bit quicker. You only need about 40g per day and 70% cocoa is best.
8) Manage Stress. Psychosocial factors are estimated to account for 30% of heart attack risk. Managing stress better is known to reduce the likelihood of having a heart attack. It has also been shown that even for people who have heart disease, stress management lowers recurrence and increases survival.
9) Take up Tai Chi. People who do regular Tai Chi have been shown to have lower blood pressure and lower rates of hart disease. The same applies for regular meditation.
10) Stay Positive. There are no guarantees in life and even if we do all the “right” things we may still get sick. Even if you have a heart attack, long-term survival and quality of life is improved by simply taking an optimistic view on life. You do not have to be over the top or unrealistic. Simply looking for the positives is correlated with better outcomes.
We have come to associate preventing heart attack with the need to take tablets. Some people may need medication despite doing the right things. However we can reduce our reliance on tablets and enjoy better heart health by applying the very simple principles outlined above.
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.