A heart attack is a traumatic, life-changing event. This experience is often the first time that a person faces the frailty of life – and it’s something you can help avoid with certain healthy habits. The average middle-aged adult has about one in three chance of developing heart disease. But by controlling risk factors now, you delay the arrival of the condition, or even prevent problems altogether. Check out these simple swaps you can make today!
Say ‘No’ to Salt. Americans consume 10 times the amount of salt they should – and high salt consumption can lead to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. The culprit behind too much salt in your diet? It’s likely packaged or processed foods that are laden with this additive. So skip the chips and fries, or at least limit how much and how often you eat them. Then reduce the overall amount of salt in your diet by loading up on fresh fruits and veggies. Adding herbs and spices to flavor your food while cooking is another way to cut back.
Move more. Stuck at home more often than normal? Many people are in the same boat, but it’s no time to sink into the couch! Being sedentary most of the day is dangerous for your health – it more than doubles your risk for heart attacks and diabetes and increases your risk for cardiovascular death by 90 percent, even if you exercise. Separate yourself from your chair by taking conference calls while pacing your office, throw a ball or stick in the yard for your dog to fetch, and choose active games that kids of all ages can enjoy – like Twister, hide-and-seek and tag. You can even turn TV time into fitness time by walking on a treadmill, lifting weights or stretching during your favorite shows.
Load your plate with fish, legumes and nuts. What you eat plays a major role in your heart health. To make the biggest impact, build a few meals a week around fish like salmon, mackerel and herring. Eating fish two to four times a week reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke! Beans like chickpeas, pintos and lentils also help more effectively control blood sugar and are filling and satisfying to boot! And when you need an afternoon snack, a handful of almonds, pecans and pistachios can help reduce harmful blood fats and lower cholesterol levels.
Potential Signs of a Heart Attack
- pain or discomfort in the chest, in one or both arms or shoulders, neck, back or jaw
- difficulty breathing
- feeling light-headed, weak or faint
- nausea or vomiting
- cold sweats
Women also show different signs, like feelings of unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety
The Chattanooga Heart Institute provides unsurpassed care of your heart – from diagnosis through recovery. Find out about our expertise and services at Chattanoogaheart.com. To schedule an appointment, call (423) 697-2000.