Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in developed nations, particularly for people over the age of forty. The habits that people develop earlier in life will make all the difference in terms of whether they develop heart disease past the age of forty. However, even people who have reached this crucial milestone can help to prevent the development of heart disease later. They need to maintain certain dietary and exercise regimens, and they need to work closely with their physicians.
One of the biggest predictors of whether or not someone is going to get heart disease is how much he or she exercises. People who are completely sedentary are at a significantly elevated risk of getting heart disease. Individuals who engage in aerobic exercise five days a week for thirty minutes or more will greatly reduce their risk of heart disease, as well as their risk of a wide range of other physical ailments.
Lots of different exercises can constitute aerobic exercise. Power walking, running, biking, using an elliptical trainer, swimming, dancing, and many other activities can give people the aerobic exercise that they need in order to stay fit and healthy.
It should be noted that when people get more than an hour of aerobic exercise every day, they’re going to start to get diminishing returns. Past a certain point, exercise can be rough on the joints, and potentially damaging to the heart. However, as long as people don’t exercise for more than two hours a day, they’re not going to suffer any negative health consequences associated with their exercise sessions.
Anaerobic exercise can also make a big different when it comes to preventing heart disease later in life. Anaerobic exercise can improve circulation. People who lift weights, do yoga, and perform various stretching exercises are giving themselves anaerobic exercise. These people will also manage to keep themselves fit and healthy for a long time.
The dietary regimen that will lead to heart health is somewhat controversial. Some people argue that saturated fat is the biggest contributor to heart disease. Other people argue that it is cholesterol. Some people say that cholesterol is only damaging in so much as it raises the serum cholesterol in the human bloodstream, and that saturated fat is still the problem. Other people argue that the fats from vegetable oil, other than monounsaturated fat, are the worst kinds. Some people will say that it’s only important to avoid trans fats, and the rest are fine. The nutritional establishment itself is divided on all of these issues, and individual people are baffled.
Trying to find some order in the chaos of nutrition science is difficult at the best of times. People over forty, and even many people under thirty-five, have seen nutrition science recommendations change over and over again in their lifetimes. In the 1990’s, low-fat diets and low-cholesterol diets were all the rage. In the twenty-first century, high-protein, high-fat, and low-carbohydrate diets have experienced a resurgence in popularity. Both camps will argue that their approach is better for heart health. Heart disease is blamed on sugar in some circles and fat and cholesterol in other circles.
Ultimately, healthy individuals should try to eat a variety of foods if they can. Certain nutritional recommendations don’t seem to change. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables has always been considered positive. Drinking lots of water is similarly beneficial. People should try to emphasize whole grains and lean protein, as well as the incontrovertibly healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fat. Not eating too much salt and sugar is similarly a good idea, and avoiding all trans fatty acids is important.
If people try to build their diets around these foods, the rest is usually going to take care of itself. They might end up consuming more carbohydrates or more fat according to the elusive ideal, but they will generally be eating healthy diets.
People who smoke should stop if they want to safeguard their hearts. People who have very stressful lifestyles should try to enact some forms of stress management, or they’re going to cause damage to their hearts in the long run. Stress management is difficult to come by for a lot of people, but even some minor forms of stress management can make a huge difference for the people who are at risk for heart disease. Healthy forms of stress management, such as socializing, intellectual stimulation, or wholesome entertainment can actually make a big difference in terms of a person’s overall health and well-being.
Some minor things are correlated with heart disease as well. People who brush and floss every day seem to be at a reduced risk of heart disease. Certain stimulant drugs may have a long-term negative effect on a person’s heart as well, so it is a good idea to take stimulants in moderation.
Individuals who want to reduce their risk of heart disease as much as possible should make sure that they get regular doctor’s appointments. Early detection is more important with cancer, but it can still make a difference with heart disease.
Still, the biggest predictors of heart disease are still age and family history. Even people with terrible lifestyles who are under forty will rarely have heart disease. People with terrible lifestyles and no family history of heart disease are less likely to get it than the people who do everything right but who have all of the worst genetic correlations. At present, there is nothing that people can do to change their genes.
Knowing how to prevent the risk of heart disease later in life can make all the difference. Heart disease is a major killer for the people who live long enough. There is only so much anyone can do to change his or her odds. However, people can at least improve their chances by adopting the right habits and monitoring their health well enough. Heart disease is at least partly preventable and controllable for fortunate individuals.