What changes could you make to your lifestyle to prevent a heart attack?

What changes could you make to your lifestyle to prevent a heart attack?

Heart attacks have previously been thought to be linked to family history and genetics, but new research shows that this is not as strongly the case as once thought.

It all comes down to lifestyle factors like poor diet, smoking and a lack of exercise, according to a new study.

Scientists at the Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in Murray, Utah found that people with a family history of heart disease, or those diagnosed with narrow arteries aren’t necessarily doomed to have a heart attack at some point in their life; it has more to do with their lifestyle factors and the environment they live in.

A heart attack occurs when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, and is usually caused by a blood clot.

Lifestyle triggers of a heart attack include smoking, a diet filled with fatty food, being obese, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol consumption and stress.

The study, conducted by Dr Benjamin Horne, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the centre, found that while severe coronary artery disease can be inherited regardless of whether someone has a heart attack, the presence of heart attacks in people with less severe coronary disease was not clustered in families.

Dr Horne said at the annual conference of the American Society of Human Genetics in San Diego: ‘Because coronary disease and heart attacks are so closely related, researchers in the past have assumed they’re the same thing.

‘They thought that if someone had coronary disease, they would eventually have a heart attack. 

'This finding may help people realise that, through their choices, they have greater control over whether they ultimately have a heart attack.

‘Although in almost all situations someone needs to have some level of coronary disease in order to have a heart attack, some people will have a heart attack when they only have mild coronary disease where there’s only a small amount of narrowing of the artery, while others will have a heart attack with severe coronary narrowing.’

Leading NHS weight loss surgeon and health consultant, Dr Sally Norton has in recent weeks been spearheading a campaign that states: “The health of Britain is not just down to personal responsibility.”

Dr Norton is challenging the food industry to help with Britain’s obesity crisis and offers some support.

She says: “The industry has a responsibility to help consumers make better choices by offering us great products with clear health benefits. Industry cannot sit back any longer and watch the obesity crisis worsen and take no responsibility.  Misleading labelling, larger and larger portion sizing and pushing products which falsely claim health benefits are marketing ploys deliberately designed to hoodwink consumers.

“My aim is not to demonise all products perceived as unhealthy.  In fact I believe completely in enjoying food and not being obsessive about what you eat.  I’ve frequently been quoted as saying diets don’t work long-term because they are based on completely denying yourself the foods you really love – how can that be sustainable?   I’m not attacking manufacturers of chocolate or crisps for example – all I am saying is that whatever industry you’re in, and however large or small your company, there are ways to improve your products to help consumers make healthier choices.   Even implementing something as simple as clear labelling at least gives consumers a chance to make an informed choice about what they’re looking at on shelf.”  

Simon Stevens, head of the NHS, has stated that as a country we are rushing head long into NHS bankruptcy based on the growing demands of obesity related illness, and that we all have a responsible part to play to slow down the crisis.

In response Dr Sally Norton has put her money where her mouth is and has developed an innovative scheme - the Vavista Awards – ‘Eat Better, Live Better,Work Better.’ The Vavista Awards are free for producers and manufacturers to enter and are designed as a positive, meaningful endorsement and marketing message for companies which demonstrate better choices for health and wellbeing.

Sally continues: "This is big news for producers of products which are already contributing to a healthier Britain through features such as good labelling, great ingredients, local sourcing, appropriate portion sizing or genuine wellness benefits. There are three categories Food & Nutrition; Health & Wellbeing & Fitness.  Products don't have to be super healthy - they just need to demonstrate that they are a healthier choice in their field….because all of those small improvements add up.  "

Visit the website for more info: www.vavista-awards.com

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
find me on and follow me on