Heart disease is preventable. Although you cannot change some risk factors, such as family history, there are some key prevention steps you can take.
Most deaths caused by cardiovascular disease (CVD) are premature and could easily have been prevented by making crucial lifestyle changes, such as eating healthily, exercising regularly and stopping smoking.
Addressing one risk factor, such as giving up smoking, will bring important health benefits, but to significantly reduce your risk of developing CVD, you need to look at your lifestyle as a whole.
In particular, you need to address these:
If you drink alcohol, you should limit your weekly intake to less than 21 units for men and less than 14 for women. Your doctor will be able to give you help and advice if you find it difficult to moderate your drinking.
A low-fat, high-fibre diet (including whole grains and at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day) is recommended to maintain a healthy heart.
You should not consume more than one teaspoon of salt a day as too much salt will increase your blood pressure. Avoid eating foods that are high in saturated fats like fried food and baked goods, as they will increase your cholesterol level.
Eating some foods high in unsaturated fat can help decrease your cholesterol level. These foods include oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, rapeseed oil and olive oil.
3. Exercise and weight control
If you're overweight or obese, you can lose weight using a combination of a kilojoule-controlled diet and regular exercise. The recommendation for adults is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every day at least five days a week. Consult your doctor if you haven't exercised before or if you're returning to exercise after a break.
Quit smoking as soon as possible. Your doctor will be able to provide you with advice and support or medication to help you quit.
If you have a particularly high risk of developing CVD, your doctor may prescribe medication to help reduce your risk. This includes:
- Blood pressure tablets such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which are used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Statins, which are used to lower blood cholesterol levels
- Low-dose aspirin, which is used to prevent blood clots
How Clicks Clinics can help you
Clicks Clinics will help you prevent or manage heart disease with their wide range of screening tests. These include:
- Blood Pressure (BP) Test
- Cholesterol Testing and Consultation
- Lipogram Blood Test (to determine different types of cholesterol)
- Clicks Full Basic Screening (BP, Body Mass Index or BMI, meal guide and exercise plan)
- Clicks Screening Measurements only (BP and BMI)
- Clicks Comprehensive Screening (BP, BMI, Glucose and Cholesterol screening, plus meal and exercise plan)
To make an appointment at a Clicks Clinic, call 0860 254 257 or visit Clicks Clinics online.
For more info
The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa