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General Practice 2023

7 háEssential habits to avoid heart attack and stroke

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7 háEssential habits to avoid heart attack and stroke
7 háEssential habits to avoid heart attack and stroke

Infarction, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, can be avoided by adopting some simple habits, such as exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet and avoiding smoking.

Cardiovascular diseases are one of the main causes of death in the world and, although some risk factors such as age, family history or sex cannot be changed, there are some habits that are able to reduce the risk of development of cardiovascular diseases.

Thus, it is important to have he althy habits, in addition to having a medical follow-up, with routine exams to assess cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose levels, especially in people who have high blood pressure or diabetes. See the main routine exams and when to do them.


Some essential habits to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases are:

1. No smoking and avoid smoky places

Smoking is one of the most important risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases, as some tobacco chemicals, such as nicotine, can damage the heart and blood vessels, leading to a narrowing of the arteries, called atherosclerosis, or the formation of blood clots, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

In addition, the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces some of the oxygen in the blood, increasing blood pressure and heart rate, forcing the heart to work harder to provide enough oxygen.

Some studies [1, 2] show that 1 day after smoking cessation, heart rate decreases, blood pressure becomes more stable and carbon monoxide levels in the blood starts to decrease, making it easier for oxygen to reach the heart and other parts of the body. After 1 year, the risk of a heart attack reduces by about 50% and, after 5 years, the risk of a heart attack in the ex-smoker is the same as in a person who has never smoked. Here are some strategies to quit smoking.

2. Exercise regularly

Regular practice of physical exercise for 30 to 60 minutes daily, such as swimming or walking, helps to control weight, reduce blood pressure and improve blood circulation, which can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.

In addition, physical activities improve good cholesterol levels and reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides, also reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis, which can cause heart attack or stroke.

Activities such as gardening, cleaning, going up and down stairs, for example, also help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, especially when you have some limitation to do some physical exercises. Check out other he alth benefits of physical activities.

3. Drink alcohol in moderation

Consuming alcohol beyond what is recommended, and especially in the long term, can harm the heart, which can cause high blood pressure, high triglycerides, heart failure, stroke or heart attack.

Some studies [3, 4] show that drinking red wine daily can help prevent cardiovascular diseases, as resveratrol present in purple grapes has potent antioxidant action, which helps to prevent free radical damage to the heart and blood vessels.

Therefore, the American Heart Association [5] recommends that the safe intake of red wine per day is up to 148 mL, considering that wine contains up to 12% of alcohol.

However, more studies are still needed to assess the he alth benefits of purple grape components and the harm that alcohol consumption can bring even when taken in small amounts.

Also, because it contains alcohol, red wine is not recommended for some people, such as those under 18 and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

4. Maintain ideal weight

Overweight is associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke or heart attack. So even a little weight loss can help lower blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol levels, or reduce the risk of diabetes.

To check if you are at your ideal weight, you must calculate your body mass index (BMI), which must be 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2. To calculate your BMI, enter your data in the calculator below:

In addition to the BMI, it is also important to assess the abdominal circumference, which is useful to measure the amount of abdominal fat.

5. Control blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes

High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can damage the heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk of developing a heart attack, stroke or heart failure, for example.

Thus, it is important to maintain normal blood pressure, i.e. up to 139 x 89 mmHg, total cholesterol below 200 mg/dl, and blood glucose, i.e. fasting blood sugar below 99 mg /dL.

Individuals already hypertensive, with high cholesterol or diabetes need stricter blood pressure control (around 110 X 80) and LDL cholesterol (around 100), correctly following the treatment instituted by the doctor and diet guided by the nutritionist.

6. Sleep well and manage stress

People who don't get enough sleep have a higher risk of developing obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes or depression. Therefore, adults should get about seven to eight hours of sleep a night, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.

Stress can make the heart beat faster, increasing the number of heartbeats per minute and make arteries and veins stiffer, decreasing blood flow. In this way, it is important to avoid being stressed, and you can resort to massages, techniques or relaxation exercises, such as yoga.

7. Eat he althy

To prevent the onset of cardiovascular diseases, it is important to avoid or reduce the consumption of foods with saturated fat or trans fat, which are both types of fat that are harmful to he alth and that increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or atherosclerosis, for example.

Therefore, it is important to avoid or reduce the consumption of:

  • Red meats, full-fat cheeses;
  • Sauces, sausages;
  • Fried foods, sweets;
  • Soft drinks, seasonings, margarine.

On the other hand, you should increase consumption of:

  • Fruits, vegetables;
  • Soybean, flaxseed, avocado;
  • Fish, such as salmon or mackerel;
  • Nuts, olives, olive oil.

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