While everyone should understand the risks of heart disease, it is especially important for those who are at higher risk to understand what those risks are and how to reduce them. Also, there are some conditions such as atrial fibrillation that are considered a form of heart disease but don’t necessarily lead to heart attacks. Before trying to list ways to reduce your risk of heart disease, it would help to know the difference between heart disease that can lead to heart attacks and heart disease that causes other complications that are just as serious and potentially life threatening.
First a Look at Atrial Fibrillation
Most often the conditions that lead to a heart attack are considered to be ‘silent killers.’ Unlike atrial fibrillation, there is no way to detect their presence other than through tests such as blood work, angiograms and other diagnostics. Atrial fibrillation is evidenced in an irregular heartbeat which the person feels, and so they are concerned that this is leading to, or the onset of, a heart attack. Once you’ve detected an irregular heart rhythm you are tempted to ask what is atrial fibrillation and is it dangerous?
It could be, but not in the way you might think. The simple answer is that an irregular heartbeat could cause blood to pool in chambers of the heart, leading to clotting and eventual strokes but not typically a heart attack. So, yes, atrial fibrillation is dangerous, but for other reasons. Just know that anything you do that puts undue strain on the heart can lead to this condition which, in turn, can lead to other complications of which one is a stroke as mentioned above.
4 Ways You Can Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
Now that you understand that atrial fibrillation is considered heart disease but not one that leads to heart attacks, it’s time to look at risks that can, and often do, lead to heart attacks. Let’s see how many of the following four ways you can reduce these risks you ‘guessed’ correctly. They include:
- Quit Smoking – The reason you should quit smoking is because smoking causes damage to your vascular system which in turn hinders flow of blood and oxygen. This, in turn, damages the heart and can lead to heart attacks.
- Get stress under control. The typical logic here is the damaging effects of stress hormones which include cortisol and adrenaline that are both known to damage the heart, ultimately a high risk factor for heart disease.
- A reduction in animal fats which would probably mean eating few to no meats, lean or otherwise. One study conducted in 1990 proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that a vegan diet low in saturated fats can reduce risk and even reverse heart disease.
- Brisk exercise can reduce risk of heart disease. It only takes 30 minutes a day, six days a week or 60 minutes three times a week to be an effective tool against heart disease.
Now you know that atrial fibrillation can be indicative of a type of heart disease that is dangerous, but not the type that leads to heart attacks. Stop worrying that an irregular heartbeat means you are having a heart attack. Yes, atrial fibrillation can lead to something serious but so far there is no consensus on what exactly causes it except perhaps a damaged heart. Therefore, if you want to prevent atrial fibrillation while reducing your risk of heart disease, avoid high levels of stress, quit smoking, exercise more and eliminate saturated fats (especially animal fats) from your diet. These are the four steps to success.