Heart Disease – The Silent Killer
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Heart Disease – The Silent Killer

What Can I Do to Prevent Heart Disease?

  • Keep your total cholesterol level under 5, your LDL (bad) cholesterol level under 3 and your HDL (good) cholesterol level over 1.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet, focusing on fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, plenty of fibre, oats, oily fish, and eating plenty of foods rich in antioxidants (mainly fruit and vegetables, seeds and pulses). Reduce your dietary salt intake and minimise your saturated fat intake.
  • Develop an active lifestyle and exercise regularly – at least 210 minutes a week (30 minutes a day).
  • Monitor your stress levels – look at your work-life balance, learn to destress and give yourself enough down time.
  • Moderate your alcohol intake – less is more. For most people, who are otherwise not addicted or allergic to alcohol, 1 or 2 units of alcohol per day may have a cardio-protective effect. This is partly due to the benefits of alcohol on HDL cholesterol as well helping the blood to clot.

However, more than two drinks per day increases your risk of heart disease. Be aware of your safe limits.

What about Supplements to Prevent Heart Disease?

Folic acid and the B vitamins can lower homocysteine levels, which tend to be high in Celtic males. Homocysteine is an amino acid implicated in the hardening of the arteries and high levels are a factor in heart disease. Folic acid, either taken through diet or in supplementary form, lowers homocysteine levels and can be a useful addition in the fight against heart disease and stroke. In addition, niacin (Vitamin B3) is very helpful at raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Omega-3 fish oil, particularly that found in cold water fish (such as salmon, tuna and sardines) or else in supplement form, is beneficial for the heart.

Coenzyme Q is produced by the human body and is necessary for the basic working of cells. It is thought that coenzyme Q levels can be low in patients with some chronic diseases, such as heart conditions and high blood pressure. Some without prescription drugs, such as statins for cholesterol, may also lower coenzyme Q levels. Therefore a coenzyme Q supplement may reduce some of the potential side effects of statin treatment for raised cholesterol and may also help to lower blood pressure. This area is the subject of ongoing research.

What About Aspirin?

Aspirin can prevent clotting occurring at the site of narrowed arteries by thinning the blood. Because platelets (the cells in the blood that are involved in blood clotting) are made on a continuous basis by the bone marrow, aspirin must be taken on a regular basis, either daily or every second day, to have its maximum effect.

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