10 anti-infarct strategies that will help you to care for your heart
140,000 annual deaths in Spain due to cardiovascular diseases are reason enough to be alert to a pathology in which prevention and healthy life is essential. For that reason, at Clínica Excelan, we have thought that it is convenient to publicize the main 10 anti-infarct strategies, so that you take care of yourself and take care of your health.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in Spain. In this mournful ranking, diseases of the coronary arteries (ischemic heart disease) occupy the first place. And, within these, acute myocardial infarction is the manifestation with the highest mortality rate, especially when it is not treated adequately and early.
Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is the death (necrosis) of heart cells. It occurs when a coronary artery is blocked and the cells do not receive adequate blood supply. This coronary obstruction is caused by the detachment of an atheromatous plaque that forms a thrombus or clot that totally occludes the artery. If the artery can not be opened quickly to restore blood flow, the death of cardiac tissue is irreversible. In these circumstances, the necrotic (dead) myocardium stops functioning and its place is occupied by a scar that has no ability to contract, which weakens the heart.
To open the artery as quickly as possible, to restore blood flow and minimize the extent of infarction, two techniques are used: primary angioplasty (an urgent catheterization to try to open the artery mechanically) or fibrinolysis, which consists of injecting an intravenous drug that breaks the thrombus.
Unfortunately, one out of every three people who suffer an acute myocardial infarction dies before receiving medical attention, because AMI is usually complicated by a lethal arrhythmia.
Would you like to know what are the 10 anti-infarct strategies that can help you take care of your heart? So we recommend you continue reading
KNOW AND CONTROL YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
The pressure with which blood circulates through our arteries is the main indicator of cardiovascular health. A tension below 120/75 mmHg is considered normal and healthy; above these figures, up to 135/85 mmHg, it is already considered prehypertension; and when the figure exceeds these parameters we enter the risk zone: hypertension. This pressure increase is usually ‘silent’ and asymptomatic, but it causes damage to the arteries throughout the body and injuries to organs such as the kidneys, brain, retina or heart. High blood pressure causes the heart to be forced more to pump blood, which causes left ventricular hypertrophy; causes arrhythmias to appear, and, in advanced stages of the disease, the heart to weaken resulting in heart failure. That is why it is vital to periodically monitor blood pressure and follow diet and lifestyle recommendations. This will prevent this pathology from embittering your life and, if you already have it, improve your health levels. These are:
- Make a bland diet. Reduce the amount of daily salt to a pinch (1.5 grams is recommended). Avoid sausages of all kinds, preserves, nuts, broth tablets, bottled sauces and, in general, all dehydrated and precooked foods, which are usually very salty. Try to take natural foods prepared at home (meat, fish, vegetables, vegetables …) without adding salt. If you eat out of the house, ask for foods with little salt and remove the salt shaker from the table. This will avoid falling into temptation.
- Avoid alcohol. Reduce your intake to less than 20-30 grams a day (the equivalent of two glasses of wine). Larger amounts favor hypertension and prevent adequate control of it.
- Follow the doctor’s advice. If the blood pressure remains high with the two previous hygienic-dietetic measures, take the pills that your doctor indicates. Do not be tempted to abandon the medication to try to see what happens; If it does, it will raise your blood pressure again.
- Stay at your ideal weight. Most hypertensives should reduce their weight. If they do, this measure may be enough to achieve adequate blood pressure levels and avoid taking medication.
- Do physical exercise Opt for aerobic type (walking, swimming, riding a bike). The benefit is double: this will control blood pressure and it will be easier to maintain the ideal weight.
The rate of Spanish smoking remains among the highest in Europe: 30 percent of the population over 16 years smokes, which gives a figure of 14 million smokers. And that we all know that causes one in three cancers, 20% of cardiovascular diseases and 80% of cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), in addition to suppose an annual health cost of 7.695 million euros in Spain . The snuff is the first cause of avoidable death in our environment and, as shown, a very clear cardiovascular risk factor because, according to studies, a smoker is five times more likely to suffer a heart attack than a non-smoker. Quitting smoking is more important for cardiovascular health than controlling blood pressure or cholesterol. And the good thing about it is that tobacco is the only cardiovascular risk factor that depends exclusively on the person’s willingness to eliminate it. If you continue smoking, the probability of dying in the next two years is 12 percent; On the other hand, if you leave it now, your chances of staying alive in 2015 are close to those of a non-smoker, 98 percent. If you stop smoking, you will avoid cancer and COPD, and you will have more capacity to do the things you like, practice physical exercise, have a more satisfying sex life and you will notice how your body rejuvenates in many aspects. But quitting smoking is not easy. That’s why the sensible thing to do is to talk to the doctor to prescribe medications that multiply the probability of quitting. Also, think in economic terms: do accounts, determine the money you will save if you stop smoking and think about what you could use it for. And one last piece of advice: never start smoking; So you will never have to leave it.
MONITOR CHOLESTEROL AND TRIGLYCERIDES
High cholesterol is one of the major cardiovascular risk factors: its excessive presence causes deposits of fat inside the arteries, which hinders circulation and causes the heart to suffer more to pump blood. To determine if the level of lipids is high, the only method is a blood test, which will provide three main figures: total cholesterol (a sum of all its fractions) and its two most important fractions, HDL (or good) cholesterol , which has a protective effect on the arteries, and LDL (or bad), which favors the obstruction of the arteries. And a fourth is the level of triglycerides in blood. This analysis is vital in healthy men over 40 and in women over 50. But if there are other cardiovascular risk factors (diabetes, hypertension, smoking, obesity, family history, renal failure …), the controls have to be done routine Depending on the previous pathologies and other cardiovascular risk factors, it is the doctor who establishes the optimal cholesterol figures for each person, although the Spanish Society of Cardiology states that plasma cholesterol concentrations above 200 mg / dl already result worrying Triglycerides, on the other hand, are another type of fat that circulates in the blood and that are also a coronary risk factor: it is advisable that their levels are below 150 mg / dl.
To control cholesterol levels, reduce the consumption of high-fat foods, whether saturated or trans, increase fiber intake, avoid overweight and engage in physical activity. And to prevent triglycerides from rising, in addition to the above measures, you must avoid alcohol consumption and control the intake of sugars and carbohydrates. That is, follow a Mediterranean diet of manual. If the blood lipids are high, the doctor will recommend certain drugs, but these do not prevent us from following healthy eating and exercise habits.
KEEP BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS
Diabetes is also an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It is so because it influences other risk factors, such as dyslipidemia or hypertension, as well as its own damaging effect on the arteries. This makes diabetics more at risk of suffering an acute myocardial infarction and, therefore, have to be very strict with the control of sugar and cardiovascular risk factors. Most of the tips to prevent diabetes are the same as to prevent hypertension and dyslipidemia: monitor weight, follow the Mediterranean diet, do not smoke or drink alcohol, avoid foods with added sugar and exercise.
A sedentary lifestyle is common in many professions; This is the main risk factor for obesity and, in turn, one of the main cardiovascular risk factors, at the level of pathologies such as diabetes, hypercholesterolemia or hypertension. Reducing weight through regular exercise helps reduce LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, improves control of diabetes and hypertension. In addition, exercise improves the quality of life. Ideally, exercise at moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes a day every day of the week. They should be dynamic and aerobic, such as walking, running, swimming or riding a bike. People who do not have coronary heart disease do not have limitations for the practice of exercise, but it is always advisable to have a medical examination that includes a cardiovascular assessment. And for those over 40 with cardiovascular risk factors, it is also advisable to perform an exercise test.
Stress is another risk factor that favors the appearance of cardiovascular diseases, although there is no unanimity in the assessment of its importance, among other reasons, because, unlike other risk factors, it is difficult to quantify. Stress is considered a ‘minor’ cardiovascular risk factor, although it is clear that in situations with a high stress load it increases the release of adrenaline and other catecholamines that can be the trigger of an acute myocardial infarction. To reduce the levels of stress, it is advisable to lead a healthier lifestyle and avoid situations with high tension, although in the current situation is easier said than achieved. If you have a high level of stress, try to handle it properly; unfortunately, in your work or family environment there will continue to be stressful situations and what you must learn is to live with them. But if you are not able to do it alone, ask for help to learn stress management and relaxation techniques.
AVOID EXCESS WEIGHT
Overweight and bodily obesity are a plague that, in recent years, is contributing to cardiovascular risk factors such as dyslipidemia, hypertension and diabetes are triggered. The commonly accepted index for determining obesity is the body mass index (BMI), which is obtained by dividing the weight by height squared. The ideal BMI is 20 to 25. Between 25 and 30 is overweight and over 30, obesity. Abdominal obesity, the dreaded belly, also increases cardiovascular risk. When the abdominal perimeter is greater than 94 cm in men and 80 in women it is recommended to monitor weight; and when it is greater than 103 and 88 cm respectively, an immediate weight loss is imposed. Weight loss, even if only 5 percent of the basal weight, improves lipid disorders and favorably affects other cardiovascular risk factors. And to lose weight there are no miracles: it consists of reducing caloric intake and increasing energy expenditure with moderate intensity physical exercise.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR INHERITANCE
Although family history of early coronary heart disease are risk factors, this does not mean that one is going to suffer it. Control of other risk factors can often decrease genetic influence and prevent coronary disease, even in the elderly.
If you have a family history of early ischemic heart disease, since this is a non-modifiable risk factor, it is advisable that you know and take care if you have other cardiovascular risk factors; that is, you have to take your blood pressure to rule out hypertension and have blood tests to assess your cholesterol, triglyceride and glucose levels. And watch it at the hand of your doctor. And of course, as always, avoid tobacco, obesity and sedentary lifestyle.
TAKE WHAT YOU RECEIVE
If you take any medication to control your cardiovascular risk factors, do not stop doing it without first consulting your doctor. Do not give up the tension pills because you see that your tension has been normal for a long time, or ignore those who say that their tension is too low or that it is ‘unbalanced’. Stopping medication can cause a sudden rise in blood pressure and cause a severe hypertensive crisis.
10. AND, AS OF 45, BE MORE CAREFUL
Since atherosclerosis is a degenerative disease, coronary heart disease is more frequent in people over a certain age, being the first cause of death in men over 45 years of age and in women over 65 years of age. Age is another cardiovascular risk factor that is not modifiable; for this reason, men over 45 and women over 55 should take better care of themselves. Although prevention measures must be started from the early ages of life, if you are a man over 45 or a woman over 55, you have to reinforce prevention care even more. You have to avoid overweight, smoking, should include physical exercise in your daily activity, make a healthy diet (Mediterranean diet is advised) and ask your doctor to analyze your cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure levels. If any of these factors, cardiovascular risk are altered, you have to control them strictly, because you know you are at a very difficult age and that the risk of heart attack soars over the years.