According to the Heart Foundation, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Australia with over 45,600 deaths associated with CVD in 2011. With one Australian dying every 12 minutes from some form of cardiovascular disease, it’s safe to say that we need to protect the one heart we have. Most of us just wait for something bad to happen, or think that it only happens to other people. I don’t blame you; we normally associate heart attacks and strokes with the over fifties or those who are overweight. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. An increasing number of people in their thirties are suffering from unsafe levels of cholesterol or high blood pressure, which all leads to heart disease. The good news is that it’s never too late to make changes. Here is five ways to keep your heart happy.
Kick the Nicotine Habit
We know the dangers, it’s been engrained into our brains from the countless TV ads, warning packages, and an overwhelming amount of scientific studies. But every (former) smoker knows, it’s not as easy as saying I’m going to give up. Unfortunately, now not only does smoking cause lung, mouth, throat and pancreatic cancer, it also heightens your chance of heart disease. Smokers not only have a higher build-up of fat in their arteries and suffer from a lower level of HDL (the good cholesterol,) they have higher blood pressure and are more susceptible to blood clots. Kicking the habit is more imperative than ever. Giving up will take time and changes to your behavioural patterns, but there are many different methods that have helped people to quit. This includes going cold turkey, decreasing your daily number, nicotine replacement therapy, support groups, hypnosis and therapy. Remember, don’t give up if one method doesn’t work, it just means it’s not the right way for you.
Take Care of those Chompers
Believe it or not, your teeth and gums are the gateway to your heart. We already know that we take in the nutrition from food through the gums, but did you know that the same can be said for bacteria? Namely, for those suffering from periodontal disease. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people with this condition are two times more likely to develop heart disease. The theory suggests that bacteria enters through your gums into your bloodstream and attaches itself to the fat subsidising in your arteries. I think I might go and brush my teeth…
Forego Trans-Fat, Instead Fill Up on Fibre
I know, I know, that’s all the deliciousness like muffins, crackers and cookies. But these foods all contain trans-fat that raise bad cholesterol and lower the good kind of cholesterol. While I’m not saying you shouldn’t treat yourself every now and again, there are some switches you should make to your diet. Studies show that women who ate a diet high in fibre decrease their risk of heart disease by twenty five percent. So start munching on more fruit, vegetables, omega 3’s and wholegrain pastas and bread. You can also lower your cholesterol with Flora and other alternatives like skim milk instead of full cream.
Do you have any tips for lowering your cholesterol? Tell us in the comments below.