THE SEVEN RISK FACTORS
1. Smoking - Smokers risk a heart attack twice as much as non-smokers. Smoking is also the most preventable risk factor. So if you smoke, quit right now. Also remember that non-smokers who are exposed to constant smoke are at an increased risk. And that’s not fair.
2. Cholesterol - Please have your cholesterol levels checked. A diet low in cholesterol, saturated & trans fat will help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Regular exercise will also help lower ‘bad’ cholesterol and raise ‘good’ cholesterol levels.
3. Blood pressure - Like cholesterol, blood pressure interpretation and treatment should be individualized, taking into account your entire risk profile. Control blood pressure through diet, exercise, weight management, and if needed, medication.
4. Diabetes - If not properly controlled, diabetes can lead to significant heart damage, including heart attacks and death. Control diabetes through a healthy diet, exercise, maintaining the right weight, and taking medications as prescribed by your doctor.
5. Sedentary Lifestyle - Many of us lead sedentary lives, exercising infrequently or not at all. Simple leisure-time activities like gardening or walking can lower your risk of heart disease. Try to exercise 30 minutes every day, at moderate intensity.
6. Unhealthy Eating - Eat a heart-healthy diet, low in salt, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and refined sugars. Try to increase your intake of foods rich in vitamins and other nutrients, especially antioxidants, which have been proven to lower your risk for heart disease. Also eat plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains.
7. Stress -Poorly controlled stress and anger can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Use stress and anger management techniques to lower your risk. Learn to manage your time better, set realistic goals, and take up activities like Yoga. Meditate for 10 minutes, walk wherever possible, eat right, and keep an eye on the above risk factors.