Keeping your heart healthy is vital, especially when heart disease is the UK's biggest killer.
It's time to pay attention and give your heart what it needs.
Statistics show that one in five men die from heart disease, so it's time to make a change.
The recent untimely death of James Gandolfini has put heart health firmly back in the spotlight and what makes such cases so unfortunate is that often preventable measures can be taken to keep your health healthy and avoid premature death.
Cases like James Gandolfini’s do however offer an opportunity to urge change, so that men worldwide can be warned of the risks associated with certain lifestyle choices.
HealthExpress.co.uk medical advisor, Dr. Hilary Jones offers his expert advice on the issue.
How can I prevent a heart attack happening to me?
It’s true to a certain degree that age and weight will influence the likelihood of life-threatening conditions, and even though we have more medical insight than ever before, the message of how to reduce that risk is still not reaching the masses. In Gandolfini’s case, whilst the details of his private and personal lifestyle can only be speculated at, if it was indeed anything like his on-screen alter-ago Tony Soprano, then it would be a fair assumption that his choices would have had a direct affect on his health, and moreover, his heart.
With this said, the important questions to ask yourself are: What puts you at a high risk of heart problems, and what actions can you take to reduce the chances of them happening?
Although some doctors may suggest that early onset heart disorders are linked to a stressful life, whether at work or at home, there hasn’t been conclusive proof of this and it is more likely to be caused by coping mechanisms that people use in times of increased stress. Such mechanisms like smoking, drinking, comfort eating or taking drugs have been statistically proven to be dominating risk factors for cardiac arrests. So it is essential therefore to address these risk factors and make smart, healthy decisions for a more certain future
If you continue to eat foods that are high in fat, fatty plaques will start to build up in your arteries. It is key to avoid a diet rich in saturated fats, as these encourage the body to create low density lipoproteins often referred to as ‘bad cholesterol.’ It’s not all bad though; eating a small amount of unsaturated fat can increase the levels of good cholesterol, which may help to reduce some of the blockages in our arteries. High levels of saturated fats should generally be avoided, and these can often be found in foods like: pies, sausages, cream, biscuits, cakes and cheeses. Whilst it has been speculated that Gandolfini’s last meal of friend prawns and Fois Gras for example, may have contributed to his fatal heart attack, it is more likely that a long-term unbalanced diet would have been more of an influential factor; a healthy diet is vital in protecting your future wellbeing.
For a number of decades, smoking has been found to be a major risk factor for coronary heart problems. Clinical studies have shown that it can cause atherosclerosis and increase blood pressure, so it’s essential that you try your best to kick the habit, there is plenty of support services and treatments out there to help you.
Your arteries and heart are put under extra strain if you suffer from high blood pressure. It can be easily reduced, but you must be prepared to make changes to certain areas of your lifestyle including moderating your alcohol intake, and making sure you stay at a healthy weight by taking regular exercise and maintaining a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and lean meat