What to do to avoid a heart attack or stroke?

Q: What can I do to prevent a heart attack or stroke?

A: WHO estimates that more than 17.5 million people have died from cardiovascular disease such as a heart attack or stroke in 2012. Contrary to popular belief, more than 3 of these deaths Out of 4 occurred in low- and middle-income countries, and men and women were affected in the same way.

The good news, however, is that 80% of heart attacks or premature strokes are preventable. Healthy eating, regular physical activity and cessation of tobacco products are the keys to prevention. It is also important to check and control the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sugar or diabetes.

Healthy Eating: A balanced diet is essential for the health of the heart and the circulatory system. Consume lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish and legumes, and restrict salt, sugar and fat. Alcohol consumption should be moderate.

Regular physical exercise: at least 30 minutes of regular exercise each day helps maintain good cardiovascular health; At least 60 minutes most often in the week helps maintain a form weight.

Avoid tobacco use: tobacco in all its forms is very dangerous to health – be it cigarettes, cigars, pipes or chewing tobacco. Exposure to tobacco smoke is also dangerous. The risk of heart attack and stroke begins to fall as soon as a person stops using tobacco products and can decrease by almost half after one year.

Checking and controlling your overall cardiovascular risk: An important aspect of preventing heart attacks and strokes is providing treatment and counseling to people at high risk (those with cardiovascular risk at age 10 Equal to or greater than 30%). A health worker can estimate your cardiovascular risk using simple tables and give you appropriate advice to manage your risk factors.

To control your cardiovascular risk:

Know your blood pressure: high blood pressure is generally not accompanied by any symptoms, but it is one of the main causes of heart attack or stroke. Have your blood pressure checked and memorize the numbers. If it is high, you need to change your lifestyle to include a healthy diet, with less salt, and increase your physical activity. You may also need medications to control your tension.
Know your blood lipid levels: high blood cholesterol and abnormal levels of blood lipids increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Blood cholesterol should be controlled through a healthy diet and, if necessary, appropriate medicines.
Know your blood sugar level: high blood sugar (diabetes) increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. If you have diabetes, it is very important to control your blood pressure and your sugar level in order to reduce the risk.

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