Preventing Heart Disease and Stroke: Ways to Stay Active & Healthy

Heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of mortality in the UAE and preventing this is the need of the hour. About 60 to 70% of the population in UAE is suffering from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Here are ways and tips that can help you lower your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and premature coronary heart diseases (CHDs) by staying active and healthy.

Related: Best Blood Pressure Machine in UAE for Home Use

1. Sleep for 7-8 Hours Everyday

One of the major reasons behind the increasing cases of chronic conditions and heart diseases is irregular sleep cycles and poor sleep quality. As an adult, you need to sleep for at least 7 hours every night. A saying known for long years, “Early to bed, early to rise” holds true. You need to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. Do this for at least 5 days a week, but incorporating the same practice for all 7 days of the week would be better. Remember, quantity over quality. This means even if you sleep for 7-8 hours but you wake up in the middle of the night more than twice then it is of no use. Quality sleep is what makes the difference.

Ensure you avoid staying up late at night. Avoid distractions. Now, let us talk about circadian rhythm. For those of you who are not familiar with the term circadian rhythm, well, it helps to control your daily schedule for sleep and wakefulness. Circadian rhythm is your sleep-wake pattern over the course of a 24-hour day. In other words, it is the 24-hour internal clock in our brain. Besides regulating cycles of alertness, it also regulates the cycle of sleepiness by responding to light changes in our environment. If you’re experiencing trouble sleeping for days or weeks, then contact your family doctor or consult a health expert.

2. Maintain a Healthy Weight

People who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of getting a stroke or developing heart diseases such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. This is because excess weight puts additional stress on the heart and blood vessels. Hence, maintaining a healthy body weight is of utmost importance. Additionally, you need to know whether your weight is in the healthy range or not by calculating Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is nothing but your ideal body weight based on your height, age, and current weight. Yes, BMI determines whether a person is overweight or obese considering their current weight, height, and age. Generally, a BMI of 25.0-29.9 is considered overweight and a BMI of 30 and above is considered obese.

You can also consult your GP as he/she will be able to tell you what your ideal weight should look like. Consider purchasing a digital weighing scale so that you can check your weight anytime. If you have visceral fat (body fat that’s located near the vital organs i.e. stomach, liver, and intestines), then that can cause a serious issue. You need to get rid of belly fat and visceral fat. Waist circumference measurement is another alternative that helps you to measure how much belly fat you have. Note that the risk of developing heart disease is higher if the waist measurement is greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women.

In fact, reducing your weight by just 3-5% can help decrease certain fats in the blood known as triglycerides. Additionally, it can also aid in lowering blood glucose, as well as, reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. So, you see, losing even a little bit of weight can be beneficial. However, losing more weight is definitely a gift to your body since it helps to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.

3. Quit Smoking

One of the best gifts you can give to your heart is to quit smoking. Smoking is one of the major reasons to cause coronary thrombosis in people below the age of 50. It is also a major risk factor for heart diseases especially atherosclerosis which is nothing but the furring of the arteries. The reason is that cigarette smoke reduces the oxygen in the blood. This increases heart rate and blood pressure since the heart needs to exert more pressure to supply sufficient oxygen to the brain, as well as, the body. The chemicals present in tobacco can damage the heart and the blood vessels, and can also affect your productivity and reduce your lifespan.

By quitting smoking, you reduce the risk of developing CHDs (Congenital Heart Defects) and also help in preventing heart disease, stroke, and other heart complications. Note that passive smoking is also hazardous. One of the best ways in which you can quit smoking is by using a Nicotine gum or Nicotine patch. They are super effective stop-smoking aids. You can refer to our guide on how to quit smoking effectively by clicking here.

4. Be Physically Active

In order to prevent lifestyle diseases and stay fit and healthy, you need to stop living a sedentary lifestyle since it is the root cause of various chronic diseases. Therefore, you need to incorporate at least 45 minutes of exercise or physical activity into your daily routine. Doing this on a regular basis will help you maintain cardiovascular fitness. One of the easiest ways to stay physically active is by moving more and sitting less. You need to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, over and above your workout. If 10,000 steps are not possible, then at least walk 5,000 steps. This lowers the risk of diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, stroke, and even certain types of cancers. Also, consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator when you don’t have any bags or luggage with you.

Gardening and watering the plants is another great activity to keep your body moving. Exercising and being physically active regularly also helps you to maintain healthy body weight, promotes sound sleep, helps to control stress, boosts mood, and also improves cognitive function in middle-aged and older people. Besides brisk walking, other great alternatives are cycling and swimming. Considering bio-individuality, it is always better to consult your family doctor or healthcare provider to ask what type of exercises or activities suit you and how much of it, and which exercises/activities you need to refrain from.

5. Consume a Heart-healthy, Balanced Diet

As a matter of fact, a healthy and nutritious diet can improve blood pressure and cholesterol, can also protect the heart and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Include plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in your diet. A heart-healthy, balanced diet should look like the following:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes or beans
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy food items
  • Fish and lean meat
  • Healthy fats like olive oil

Here’s what you need to cut down/limit:

  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Processed foods
  • Saturated fats present in full-fat dairy products and red meat
  • Trans fat present in deep-fried foods, chips, fast food items, and baked goods.

6. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Quitting or at least limiting your alcohol consumption is highly important for your heart health. Drinking in moderation will definitely lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. When you reduce your alcohol consumption or you stop drinking, you’ll notice a speedy improvement in your blood pressure.

7. Keep Your BP (Blood Pressure) and Diabetes under Control

Preventing heart disease and stroke is not possible if you don’t keep a watch on your blood pressure and diabetes. Blood pressure and diabetes go hand in hand. As a matter of fact, people with high blood pressure and diabetes are at a higher risk of getting a heart attack or stroke. Purchase a reliable and durable blood pressure monitor for home use today to help you keep your blood pressure in check. Consider purchasing a glucometer to check your blood glucose levels effectively in the comfort of your own home.

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