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8 Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Having a Heart Attack

8 Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Having a Heart Attack

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    It may surprise you to know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men as well as women. About 250,000 American men, and about the same number of American women, die from this disease every year. A heart attack can strike without you even knowing that you have heart disease, so reduce your risk of having a heart attack by practicing these eight healthy habits.

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    1. Don’t start smoking, and if you already do, stop. The unhealthy habit of puffing on cigarettes damages body organs, and the heart is one of them. Smoking also causes plaque buildup and narrowing of the arteries, which causes coronary heart disease, or CHD. It contributes to peripheral artery disease, or PAD, as well. CHD and PAD raise your risk for a heart attack.
    1. Monitor your blood pressure because high blood pressure, or hypertension, can raise your risk for heart disease and lead to a heart attack. Take special care to keep your blood pressure low if you are overweight. If hypertension runs in your family, watch your blood pressure. Also, avoid eating too much salt. Take medication if your blood pressure is high and you cannot lower it on your own. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg.
    1. Eat for the health of your heart. Consume leafy greens and fruits, low-fat meat and poultry, nuts and seeds, soybeans, beans, and healthy oils like olive oil, corn oil, safflower oil, and canola oil. Stay away from foods that contain saturated fat, trans fat, and a lot of carbohydrates and sugar. Develop a low carb meal plan to prevent diabetes, since diabetes raises the risk for a heart attack. Also avoid drinking too much alcohol.
    1. Tame your anger. Anger is a major cause of stress, and stress brought about by anger has been known to cause heart attacks. Sometimes people resort to consuming an abundance of food, alcohol, or cigarettes to combat stress. Since all of these actions contribute to heart disease, it’s obvious that stress should be avoided at all costs. To reduce your stress level, exercise, engage in relaxing therapies, and cultivate strong relationships.
    1. Stay active to reduce your risk of having a heart attack. Keep moving to keep blood pressure and cholesterol low too. Regular exercise can also protect you from diabetes, and being active on a regular basis will help keep your weight under control.
    1. Lose weight if you are obese. Excess body fat raises your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. A body mass index that ranges from 18.5 to 24.9 is desirable, and you can check yours using a BMI calculator. You can also check to see if you are overweight by measuring the size of your waist. Women who have a waist that exceeds 35 inches are considered overweight. Overweight men have a waist that exceeds 40 inches.
    1. Eat heart healthy when dining out. When you are not the one preparing the food you eat, you don’t know if your food is heart healthy or not. To find out what’s in the dish you are ordering and about to consume, simply ask your waitress. If it is a dish that is made with a lot of butter, which is high in saturated fat, order something else.
    1. Keep bad cholesterol at bay to prevent a buildup of plaque in the arteries that can cause a heart attack. Read all the labels on the foods you eat to see how much cholesterol these foods contain. Make sure your cholesterol level is below 200 mg/dL. If it is higher than that, talk to your doctor about lowering it.

    These eight simple steps can save your life. They are easy to follow and worth the effort. Don’t wait to start practicing these heart-friendly habits.

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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