The accumulation of medical research into heart disease has increased public awareness of the importance of a heart-healthy lifestyle. This generally means exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. Most people now understand that elevated blood cholesterol levels, particularly 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 in the body and take steps to ensure it stays at acceptable levels.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the blood that over time attaches itself to the walls of the arteries that lead to the heart. Once the arteries are blocked, blood and oxygen cannot reach the heart and it begins to fail. What typically begins with chest pain eventually leads to cardiac arrest. A blood test called a lipoprotein profile can measure cholesterol levels and should ideally be done every few years in adults.
If this test shows high blood cholesterol, it is important to take steps to lower it. In addition, even if a person’s cholesterol level is within the acceptable range, it is important for them to lead a healthy lifestyle in order to maintain normal cholesterol levels. One of the best ways to achieve this is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and avoid all types of foods that are high in saturated fat. It is known that saturated fat is directly correlated with rising blood cholesterol levels and the development of heart disease.
Eating a healthy diet is also important to prevent weight gain. People who are overweight or obese tend to get high LDL cholesterol levels due to poor nutrition in their blood, but their excess weight also puts extra pressure on their heart to function properly. Both of these factors greatly increase the risk of having a heart attack. Diet is only part of the solution to obesity and heart disease, as staying active is also important. Regular exercise speeds up metabolism and burns calories, which helps people achieve and maintain their ideal weight. Exercising for at least 30 minutes at least three times a week will also actively lower cholesterol levels. Cardiovascular exercise, in particular, keeps the heart active and working as it should.
While living a healthy lifestyle is important at all stages of life, it becomes even more important as we age. This is because cholesterol levels often rise uncontrollably over several years. As the risk of heart attack increases with age, so does the need to eat healthily and exercise regularly. In addition, it is important to avoid activities such as smoking and excessive drinking, which are known to put additional strain on the heart.
Living a healthy lifestyle is not difficult, but it does take dedication. The risks associated with an increase in blood cholesterol levels, especially LDL cholesterol levels, are the motivation needed to eat well and exercise every day. A healthy lifestyle allows people to look and feel better and will in all likelihood increase their life expectancy.
Thanks to Samantha Baker