Five keys to a healthy heart

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Every day 330 people die in Spain due to cardiovascular disease. It is the leading cause of death in our country and in the world. But 80% of premature mortality (under 70 years) from this cause is avoidable. Simply adopt heart-healthy lifestyle habits. «The pillars of prevention are a correct diet and regular physical activity», States Dr. Carlos Macaya, president of the Spanish Heart Foundation. Too give up smoking, since smoking is together with hypertension, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes one of the four main cardiovascular risk factors.

Other situations that also contribute to increasing the chances of developing cardiovascular disease are being overweight and obesity, stress, sedentary lifestyle and Lack of sleep. «Being overweight and obesity will condition the development of hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes, which have great weight as risk factors. And when these factors are associated, it does not have a summation effect but rather it is enhanced, ”warns the president of the FEC.

On the occasion of World Heart Day, which is held this Wednesday, the FEC has presented data on the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in the Spanish adult population. Thus, 22.2% of the citizens of our country have hypertension, 22.8% hypercholesterolemia, 7.1% diabetes, 33.8% overweight, 16.7% obesity, 19.4% sedentary lifestyle , 17.4% stress, 15.9% smoking and 36.2% lack of sleep.

The data, extracted from the Health Survey of the Spanish Heart Foundation (ESFEC) 2021, reveal that almost 60% of Spaniards have two or more cardiovascular risk factors. By sex, 58.7% of men present several of these factors, compared to 56.1% of women. “We cannot consider them as independent and summative risks, but the presence of two or more of them exponentially multiplies the risk of suffering a myocardial infarction or stroke,” warns Dr. Carlos Macaya.

Having multiple cardiovascular risk factors is more common in the population of Older: 70.4% of Spaniards aged 55 and over have two or more risk factors, a figure that drops to 53.9% in the age group between 36 and 54 years, and to 41.6 % in Spaniards between 16 and 35 years old.

By sex, women suffer more lack of sleep (37.8%), stress (21.8%) and sedentary lifestyle (22.4%) than men, while the rest of the cardiovascular risk factors analyzed are more common in them, with little difference in the case of hypercholesterolemia.

“We must remember that many of these diseases are preventable with healthy lifestyle habits, so we must insist on the control of cardiovascular risk factors “, remarks Dr. Macaya.

The five keys to prevention

In this sense, Dr. Javier Aranceta, president of the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition (SENC) and member of the Nutrition Committee of the FEC, recalls that high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, overweight and obesity They are closely linked to our eating habits, so «it is essential to focus on maintaining a varied and balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables. In this sense the Mediterranean diet it is the one that has shown the most benefits at the cardiovascular level ».

The Predimed study, published in 2013 in the prestigious “New England Journal of Medicine”, showed that the Mediterranean diet supplemented with virgin olive oil or dried fruits such as walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds, is more effective than low-fat diets of all kinds to prevent cardiovascular diseases.

The smoking cessation, the control of stress levels and good sleep hygiene are three pillars that will also help maintain good cardiovascular health. The fifth key, fundamental along with food, is exercise, which should be practiced regularly and with moderate intensity. Specifically, according to the WHO recommendations, an adult between 18 and 64 years of age should limit the time spent sitting and engage in moderate aerobic physical activities during at least 150 to 300 minutes a week, or vigorous aerobic physical activities for at least 75 to 150 minutes, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activities throughout the week. Moderate or more intense muscle strengthening exercises for two or more days a week are also recommended as they provide additional health benefits.

For those over 65 years of age, the same recommendations apply as for adults, although in this age range the WHO recommends that they also perform varied exercises that emphasize functional balance and a muscle strength training moderate or higher intensity, three or more days a week, to improve functional capacity and prevent falls.

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