Although heart disease is prevalent across the globe and is the number 1 cause of death worldwide, it is still preventable and potentially reversible. Adopting a few lifestyle changes that may help in lowering cholesterol levels, maintain healthy body weight, and prevent high blood pressure can actually combat heart disease.
According to Who heart disease is the number 1 cause of worldwide mortalities. Heart illness is guilty of taking almost 17.9 million lives each year.
In Pakistan, cardiovascular disease accounts for 29% of the total mortalities, according to a 2016 report by WHO. The most common risk factor for this is elevated bad cholesterol and blood pressure, which in turn is linked to body weight and lifestyle.
What Is Cholesterol?
As defined by the American Heart Association cholesterol is a waxy substance that is required to build cells and make vitamins and other hormones. Cholesterol is not inherently bad but too much of it is certainly a serious health risk.
Cholesterol comes from two basic sources; your liver makes all the necessary cholesterol and the extra comes from the diet. A diet high in fats causes the liver to make more cholesterol. Hence, resulting in higher than necessary levels.
Cholesterol is of two basic types. LDL (low-density lipoproteins) and HDL ( high-density lipoproteins), with the former being the “Bad Cholesterol” and the latter one being the “Good Cholesterol”.
A lower amount of bad cholesterol and a high amount of good cholesterol ensure a healthy heart and blood vessels. If the LDL surpasses certain levels this can increase the plaque build-up in the blood vessels.
Cardiovascular Disease And High Cholesterol
When the liver produces too much cholesterol it clogs your arteries. This is called atherosclerosis. This is usually the first step towards serious cardiovascular complications. Your arteries become narrow and the blood flow to the heart is either lessened or completely blocked.
As blood carries oxygen towards the heart, once the blood flow gets restricted so does the oxygen. If the blood and oxygen supply to a part of the heart, completely gets cut off, it results in a heart attack.
Ways To Lower Cholesterol Levels
When we talk about lowering cholesterol levels to improve heart health we always mean lowering the LDL levels. The key is to lower the LDL and maintain the HDL.
The diet associated with preventing or treating heart disease basically revolves around the wise selection of different types of fats. It is more important to change the bad fats with good fats than to lower the overall fat intake.
1.1. Focus On Monounsaturated Fat
To lower your LDL levels and maintain the HDL levels you should change your saturated fat intake with monounsaturated fat. You can identify saturated fats as those that stay solid at room temperature.
Study also finds that taking a diet high in monounsaturated fat helps increase the HDL levels by 12%. Olives, olive oil, avocados, and canola oil are some common sources of monounsaturated fat.
1.2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids do not show a direct effect on lowering the LDLs but help maintain heart health in other ways. They help in reducing blood pressure. These are commonly found in seafood and fish oils.
1.3. Eliminate Trans Fat
Transfats are basically fats that have been altered by hydrogenation. You as a layman can consider trans fats as all fats that are present in packaged foods, such as cookies, chips, and cakes. Margarine is also trans fat and should be avoided.
Trans fats are guilty of raising the overall cholesterol levels in the blood. Therefore, contributing to cardiovascular disease.
1.4. Eat Fibers
Fibers play an essential role in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fibers reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Fruits, oatmeals, vegetables, and legumes are rich in soluble fibers.
Regular exercise shows a direct impact on lowering bad cholesterol and elevating good cholesterol levels. A study conducted on women shows a notable reduction n the oxidized LDL levels after aerobic and resistance exercises.
Even low levels of exercise show a positive effect on HDL levels. Increasing the intensity and duration increases the benefits as well.
Exercise is also responsible for controlling other risk factors of heart diseases. Proper exercise combats obesity and controls hypertension.
Doctors advise increasing your physical activity if you want to prevent cardiovascular disease. Such as taking a walk, opting for stairs, riding a bike, and playing a sport.
3. Lose Weight
No one can deny the importance of healthy body weight. Being overweight or underweight brings a load of problems.
If you are carrying some extra pounds you need to shed those as soon as possible to save yourself from any serious illness. Being even slightly overweight contributes to disturbed LDL and HDL levels.
A study suggests that weight loss, irrespective of the weight-loss method used, elevates the HDL levels. Weight loss also increases the absorption of cholesterol from the food and prevents the liver to produce extra cholesterol.
4. Quit Smoking
If you are a chain smoker or enjoy a cigarette or two occasionally, you need to give it up right now. This will increase your good cholesterol levels.
Quitting smoking will show a direct and instant effect on your cholesterol levels. Within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your blood pressure and heart rate start to reach normal levels. Within 3 months of rehab your lung function will start to improve and Within a year of quitting smoking your risk of heart disease reduces to half as of a smoker.
5. Avoid Alcohol
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. If you don’t drink, never start. Excessive consumption o alcohol can lead to disturbed cholesterol levels, elevated blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke.
The Bottom Line
Your body is your eternal home and you need to keep it clean and healthy. It’s time that you take the reigns and make your body move in the direction you want. Preventing complications and treating illnesses is your responsibility but we have the best doctors to help you do so.
Book an appointment now, to answer all your queries. You can book an appointment with the best doctors in Pakistan through Marham by calling at Marham helpline: 0311-1222398 or by online booking facility through the website or Marham mobile app.
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