Lifestyle Tips to Prevent a "Big" Heart Attack

Prevent a "Big" Heart Attack

If you suffer from heart disease or a chronic heart condition, you need to consider making some major lifestyle changes under the supervision of your doctor. This is to ensure that you prevent worsening your chronic condition and avoid experiencing a massive heart attack. When you have a heart attack, also called a "myocardial infarction," it usually means that there's a lack of blood flow reaching an essential part of your heart muscle. In order to function correctly and keep your body running efficiently, it's essential for the organ to get access to oxygen-rich blood. If not, you'll start to feel heart attack symptoms, such as chest pain (angina), indigestion, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

Most people who suffer from a massive heart attack usually have coronary artery disease. This is a condition in which the coronary artery has trouble supplying blood to the heart muscle because the artery has a blockage. Sometimes, it's due to plaque buildup in the artery, causing it to harden or narrow. The worst part about experiencing a myocardial infarction or heart attack is the possibility of sudden cardiac arrest. This is a term you may have heard on a medical show before. A cardiac arrest is when the organ completely stops due to either a muscle spasm or arrhythmia, which is an abnormal heart rhythm. Sometimes, it's too fast. Other times, it's too slow. Either way, the irregular pattern can lead to a sudden cardiac arrest.

While most heart attacks don't lead to a cardiac arrest, an attack can still increase the risk of disrupting the heart's rhythm and eventually result in heart failure. This is because the organ weakens and loses adequate blood flow. It can even be due to a blood clot. That's why Dr. Arash Bereliani at the Beverly Hills Institute for Cardiology and Preventive Medicine emphasizes the importance of taking your heart health seriously. Whether you're making changes for the new year or implementing new habits following a previous heart attack, it's important to start sooner rather than later. Here are some lifestyle tips you can start incorporating into your routine in order to have a healthy heart, improve your quality of life, and prevent a massive heart attack.

Eat a nutritious diet that prioritizes your heart health.

When it comes to your diet, you have to prioritize healthy meals to avoid serious heart attack symptoms. When you eat a healthy diet, not only do you manage your body weight, but you also decrease your risk of cardiac arrest. You reduce your blood sugar, your cholesterol levels, and you have lower blood pressure. Plus, you prevent the buildup of fatty deposits and plaque in your coronary artery. This can be really beneficial in maintaining your heart rate at healthy levels. A common cause of heart disease is an unhealthy diet. So, if you start early, you'll ensure a normal rhythm and are less likely to experience a myocardial infarction.

So, if you want to start eating healthy and prevent a heart attack, include fiber-rich foods in your diet. Eat oatmeal and whole grains. Ask your cardiologist if coffee works well with your body or medical history. Start incorporating healthy fats from sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and avocados. The American Heart Association website even offers recipes for a heart-healthy diet. Most importantly, limit the amount of sodium you eat if you want to prevent symptoms of a heart attack. Finally, Dr. Arash Bereliani also recommends limiting sugar which is usually hidden in processed foods. Avoid added sugar, like corn syrup and fruit juice concentrates.

Quit bad habits, like smoking and drinking alcohol.

Cigarette smoking can increase your risk of a massive heart attack as well as a stroke. This is because smoking increases your blood pressure. Moreover, smoking is one of many risk factors for coronary artery disease, which is a leading cause of death in the United States. Smokers who experience a heart attack are more likely to die from it than non-smokers. This is just one of many lifestyle changes you should prioritize most.

Limiting your alcohol intake is also another way to prevent myocardial infarction. Not only does alcohol increase your calorie intake and cause weight gain, but it also increases your blood pressure and the risk of cardiomyopathy. It's best to avoid alcohol altogether or limit it to one or two drinks per day. If you can then limit it to one or two drinks a week, your heart health will be better off.

Maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

When fat clogs your arteries, it's a massive heart attack waiting to happen. It's important to think about your cholesterol and prioritize a low-fat diet. Foods that typically contribute to high cholesterol levels include processed meats, fried foods, eggs, shellfish, full-fat dairy, and fast food. To lower your cholesterol levels, it's important to increase the amount of fiber in your diet, eat more fruits and vegetables, and exercise regularly.

If you're concerned about your cholesterol and looking to prevent any heart attack symptoms, it's best to contact your cardiologist. Dr. Bereliani at the Beverly Hills Institute for Cardiology and Preventive Medicine emphasizes that heart conditions do not appear overnight. His approach to preventive medicine utilizes advanced screening tools and testing in order to identify your risks and how your genetics play a part in your heart health. That's why it's important to seek the advice of a professional if you want to prevent a heart attack or decrease the risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Keep your blood pressure under control.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the main risk factors for heart disease or stroke. Hypertension is a condition in which the force of blood flow against the walls of your arteries is high enough to create permanent damage to your heart. Blood pressure should be measured at 120/80 mmHg or below to be considered normal or healthy. When it's higher than that reading, it's considered to be hypertension. This can be considered the warning sign of a massive heart attack. To assess your health, Dr. Bereliani looks into your medical history and assesses whether your family history affects your risk of developing high blood pressure or heart disease.

It's also important to note you can have lower blood pressure or high blood pressure at different times of the day. And it also depends on what you're doing. So, just because it's high, it doesn't always mean you'll have a heart attack. But there's usually a healthy range. When you have high blood pressure, your heart is working overtime just to get blood flow pumping. This can lead to narrow arteries, which eventually limit the amount of blood that supplies your vital organs and tissues. This can cause an enlarged left heart, heart failure, coronary artery disease, stroke, or even an aneurysm. It also increases your risk of sudden cardiac arrest. So, make sure to seek the advice of your health care provider, be mindful of your weight, reduce stress, and limit your sodium intake. These little steps can help keep your blood pressure at bay.

Increase the amount of physical activity that you do per week.

Weight management is one of many crucial factors in preventing a massive heart attack. This is because being overweight is a major risk factor in developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Even just shedding a few pounds can really make a difference in your heart health. If you think about it, the more excess weight you have, the harder your heart has to work to sustain it and ensure proper blood flow. The best way to manage your weight is to increase the amount of physical activity that you do per week. For example, if you're only doing exercise once or twice a week, it may be time to try doing something active three to five times a week instead. Not only does it help you keep a healthy weight, but it'll also help with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Regardless of whether or not you're currently suffering from heart disease or have ever experienced a heart attack, you need to take preventive measures.

When it comes to heart health, don't wait until it's too late! A heart attack can have long-lasting effects on your body. A lot of people in the United States have desk jobs and spend over 10 hours a day sitting. Even if you aren't doing regular exercise now, you can take it slow. Take your dog on a trail or go on evening walks with your family. If you want to prevent a heart attack, any sort of activity is better than no activity at all.

Some think that only older people need to worry about their risk of a heart attack, but someone in the younger population can also experience a myocardial infarction. A person's risk is dependent on the heart's ability to function without issues. Even healthy people can experience a heart attack if, for some reason, blood vessels can't get enough oxygen-rich blood to the organ. But developing heart problems and abnormalities can be avoided with the right lifestyle. And you can decrease the prevalence of experiencing heart attack symptoms when you commit to an annual blood test, cardiovascular screening, physical exam, or other diagnostic tests. Start incorporating these habits before the first sign of a heart attack.

Author
Arash Bereliani, M.D., M.S., F.A.C.C. Beverly Hills Institute For Cardiology & Preventive Medicine

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