It is known that high cholesterol and blood pressure are major risk factors for heart disease.
But recent research shows that inflammation can play a key role in heart disease and that preventing it could help reduce heart attacks and stroke.
Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response to an illness or injury.
When people have a wound or an infection, inflammation helps fight off germs and facilitates healing.
The buildup of cholesterol and other substances in the arteries can also start an inflammatory response.
Although short-term inflammation can be helpful, long-term low levels of inflammation can irritate blood vessels can lead to diseases.
According to Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S., associate director of preventive cardiology for the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, people need to do several things to reduce inflammation.
Smoking can damage your blood vessels and promotes plaques in the arteries. When stopping smoking, people can cut your heart disease risk by 50%.
Have a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of multiple diseases.
Too much belly fat is extremely dangerous for heart health. A type of fat that accumulates in the belly (called visceral fat) secretes a molecule that causes inflammation.
Increase physical activity
Exercising for as little as 20 minutes a day can decrease inflammation.
Researchers suggest that moderate workouts, such as fast walking, are effective to reduce inflammation.
Eat a heart-healthy diet
Research has shown that processed and fast foods can increase inflammation.
On the other hand, whole foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, are anti-inflammatory. People need to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fatty fish.
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