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Ceturtdiena 17.08.2017 | Name days: Oļegs, Vineta

Doctor’s advice: four things to keep in mind to reduce risk of heart disease

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOne of the most important organs in the human body is the heart. This is why it is important to take care of it from a young age. The safest way to avoid heart diseases is to keep in mind risks and come up with a plan to change your life in order to make your heart and blood vessels as healthy as possible.

In the past it was believed that men should fear cardiovascular problems, because women rarely had them. Latest statistical data shows that women have heart problems just as often as men do. In regard to risk factors, the first one to keep in mind is age – this applies to men older than 45 and women older than 55. The second factor is family history; this primarily applies to people with parents or ancestors who had heart problems in the past, explains cardiologist Vita Vestmane.

The next risk factor is increased blood pressure. It has to be carefully controlled or it could cause a stroke or heart attack. A person may not even know that he has increased blood pressure. There are people who do not feel blood pressure of 200/120 mmHg and there are those who feel a 10-15 mm difference in the norm. Increased blood pressure can cause headaches and the inability to handle usual physical pressure.

Increased levels of cholesterol can cause serious problems as well. On its own cholesterol is not dangerous, as it is an integral component needed for normal functioning of cell membranes. Cholesterol also synthesizes vitamin D, bile acids and many hormones. 80% of cholesterol is synthesized by the body, but 20% is consumed with food products. Problems occur if there is an increased level of ‘bad’ or low density lipoprotein. This is because this ‘bad’ cholesterol sticks to the interior surface of blood vessels, blocking normal blood transfer. Another related factor to keep in mind is the level of triglyceride, because the sticking of cholesterol to the surface of blood vessels depends on the level of triglyceride.

Increased sugar level is also a serious risk factor. It is worth mentioning the increased body mass index above 30/m2 and abdominal circumference above 94 cm for men and above 80 cm for women.

These are the most important risk factors for human health and heart diseases that can be influenced.

The person’s emotional state is also a risk factor that should be taken into account – excessive stress, anxiety or depression also increases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.

Correction of a person’s lifestyle should begin with four main aspects: no smoking, healthy diet, regular physical activity and stress management.

It is a good idea to eat oily fish, especially sea fish at least two times per week. Fish oils are very healthy for the heart. In terms of dairy products, however, it is important to select ones that have low concentration of fats. Fruits and vegetables should be a mandatory addition to a healthy diet. A good daily measure of fruits and vegetables is 400-500 grams a day. «In regard to movement, I always recommend my patients to take on at least 30 to 40-minute long exercises at least five times per week. I would like to emphasize that it is important to have sufficient physical activity, not gruelling. People should choose the kind of physical activity they like: driving a bicycle, walking, swimming, etc. Changing a lifestyle is hard work. But it is sometimes much harder to motivate people. Most believe it is easier to write a prescription,» – says the doctor.

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