The accumulation of medical research into heart disease has raised public awareness of the importance of living a heart healthy lifestyle. This generally means exercising regularly and eating healthily. Most people now understand that raised blood cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol levels, caused by fatty foods significantly increase the risk of developing heart disease and having a heart attack. It is therefore imperative to monitor cholesterol within the body, and to take action to ensure that it remains at an acceptable level.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the blood, which if left to build up over time attaches itself to the walls of the arteries leading to the heart. Once arteries become blocked blood and oxygen cannot reach the heart, and it begins to fail. What will typically begin with chest pains will ultimately result in cardiac arrest. A blood test called a lipoprotein profile can measure cholesterol levels, and should ideally be performed on adults every few years.
When this test reveals a high level of cholesterol in the blood, it is essential to take action to reduce it. Furthermore, even when a person’s cholesterol levels are within the acceptable range it is important for them to live a healthy lifestyle in order to maintain the normal cholesterol levels. One of the best ways to achieve this is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and to avoid any types of food which have a high saturated fat content. Saturated fat is known to directly correlate with rising cholesterol levels in the blood and the development of heart disease.
A healthy diet is also important to prevent weight from being gained. People who are overweight or obese tend to have high LDL cholesterol levels in their blood due to having a poor diet, but their excess weight also puts extra pressure on their heart to function properly. These two factors greatly increase the risk of suffering from a heart attack. Diet is only part of the solution to obesity and heart disease, as it is also important to remain active. Regular exercise speeds up the metabolism and burns calories, thereby allowing people to reach and then maintain their ideal weight. Working out for at least thirty minutes a minimum of three times a week will also actively reduce cholesterol levels. Cardiovascular exercise, in particular, keeps the heart active and working as it should.
Although it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle at all stages of life, it is particularly important as people get older. This is due to the fact that cholesterol levels are often left to rise unchecked over a period of several years. As the risk of having a heart attack increases with age so too does the need to eat healthily and take regular exercise. In addition, it is important to refrain from activities such as smoking and drinking to excess, as they are known to place extra strain on the heart.
Living a healthy heart lifestyle is not difficult, but it does take dedication. The risks associated with allowing blood cholesterol levels, especially LDL cholesterol levels, to rise are all the motivation required to eat well and exercise every day. A healthy lifestyle allows people to look and feel better, and will in all probability increase their life expectancy.