How to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke

Heart disease, otherwise known as “cardiovascular disease,” takes on different forms.  It can occur in form of irregular heartbeat rhythm, blockage of heart blood vessels, or congenital heart defects.

However, you can prevent this disease in two major ways: first, through a healthy diet and second, by effecting little changes in your lifestyle.




Studies have shown that up to 70% of heart disease cases are preventable with the right food choices.  These include:


  • Fresh Fruits



Fill your plate with different kinds of fruits, vegetables, whole grains,  liver, and lean meat.   Avoid processed foods because they are mostly filled with preservatives, salt, and sugar.



  • Bitterleaf healing power

Bitterleaf, botaniccally called Veronia Amygdalina, is one of the widely used cooking vegetable in Africa and it can grow in any part of the world.

Regular consumption helps in treating stroke; strengthens the muscle, cleanses the system, and regulates blood cholesterol levels which is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

It can be cooked, juiced or chewed raw.



  • Fish

Broiled, grilled or baked, Salmon fish contains abundant omega-3 fatty acids that curtail heart disease. It also has a rich level of an antioxidant, selenium, that studies have shown enhances heart health.

Similarly, sardines with its rich omega-3s fish oil reduces the risk of sudden heart attacks, especially in people who have experienced previous attacks.

Always eat fresh fish, instead of the highly salted canned variety.




  • Vitamin D

A research showed that adults with adequate vitamin D levels were three times less likely to die from heart disease compared to counterparts with inadequate vitamin D levels.

This implies that vitamin D may help protect against some cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure and inflammation.



  • Chocolate

Eat a little dark chocolate, and make sure the ingredients are at least 70% cacao. It is filled with nutrients that may help protect your heart.  However, excess chocolate may increase your weight and work your heart harder.




  • Yams

Yam is a great source of Vitamin C, calcium and iron, which help to reduce high blood pressure.  Experts recommend the skin for eating, too, because it is full of heart healthy nutrients.






  • Exercise Daily

Thirty minutes of daily physical activity will get your heart pumping, and lower your chances of a heart attack or stroke. Brisk walking, swimming, weight lifting or gymnastics are good varieties.

Split your routine exercise into two sessions of 15 minutes each in the morning and evening, in case you have a tight schedule.



  • Reduce Weight 

If you’re overweight, you can set a goal to lose 5% to 10% of your weight.  This will improve your cholesterol numbers, and lessen your risk for a heart attack or stroke.






* Don’t Smoke


  • Smoking increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Besides, you endanger those around you who inhale the smoke, because second-hand smoke can also lead to heart disease.

Therefore, stop smoking.  Contact your doctor or clergy for counselling if necessary.




  • Attend to Symptoms

Pay attention to any unusual feeling like shortness of breath, changes in your heart rhythm, chest discomfort, or dizziness.  It could also be pain in your jaw or back,  vomiting, sweating, or flu-like symptoms.  In all of these, see your doctor.



  • Take Your Medicines



Take your medications as prescribed by your physician. If you find it difficult doing so for whatever reason, ask your doctor for help.





Finally, the secret in minimising the risk of heart attack or stroke is in varying the type of foods you enjoy every day, combined with adequate exercises. With that in mind, mix and match a handful of them every week and enjoy a healthier heart.