Can heart disease be prevented ?

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It is not always possible to prevent heart disease in view of its multi factorial nature including age and family history. But by adoption of some simple measures we can go a long way in reducing risk of heart attack. Here are some of them to get started.

Eat a healthy diet : have a balanced diet including fruits , nuts, vegetables and whole grains while avoiding too much sugar and salt in diet. Limit saturated fats to less than 7-10% of total calories in diet.

Quality sleep : make sleep a priority and have a fixed sleep schedule of 7-9 hours duration.

Stress management : avoid unhealthy ways to cope with stress like drugs, alcohol and find alternatives like yoga, meditation etc

Maintenance of healthy weight : obesity and overweight is linked to increased risk of heart disease and other related conditions like diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnoea.

Regular physical activity : doing regular physical activity or exercise for 20-30 minutes per day helps in reducing the risk significantly. It helps in diabetes and blood pressure control  while improving the overall blood supply to vital organs by working at cellular level.

Avoid smoking and tobacco use : smoking and tobacco intake increases risk of heart attack and stroke even in individuals without any risk factors for heart disease.but importantly the risk reduces significantly after one year of quitting smoking.

Regular health screening : high blood pressure, diabetes and deranged cholesterol levels are important risk factors for heart disease. But these are the ones which are most commonly missed as these usually present without any symptoms.

Blood pressure screening should be done once every two years after 18 years of age or earlier in those with high risk conditions

Diabetes screening is usually advised in healthy individuals at 45 years of age with repeat testing every 3 years but earlier in those with risk factors .

Cholesterol levels in healthy individuals should be measured initially at 18-20 years of age with repeat testing every 5 years unless risk factors are present.

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