5 affordable ways to avoid deadly disease in Singapore
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death across the globe, and Singapore is no exception. CVD is one of the most common illnesses affecting Singaporeans, as well as one of the deadliest. In fact, a third of all deaths fall under the CVD category, including cerebrovascular disease, heart disease, and hypertensive disease. The good news is that, aside from rare genetic conditions, CVD is preventable in most cases. For example, making small changes to one’s lifestyle, such as exercising regularly and eating more greens are effective ways to lessen the chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the top five affordable ways to reduce your risk of CVD, why they are effective and how they can even help you save money.
Cardiovascular disease risk factors
There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, some of which are preventable. Four indicators that affect your risk of heart disease, yet cannot be altered, are your age, ethnicity, gender, and genetics. For instance, men have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease than women until women go through menopause. The risk of getting heart disease also increases with age.
If someone in your immediate family had a history of premature cardiovascular disease, you have a higher risk of getting it as well. Even ethnicity can contribute to heart disease risk. Research has found that in Singapore, more Indians and Malays have CVD than Chinese residents.
So what are your options if you have a higher risk of developing CVD? Your best bet is to deal with risk factors that you can control, including drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking, reducing stress, sticking to a heart-healthy diet, and exercising. It can be overwhelming to make all the changes at once, but choosing one or two lifestyle habits to improve upon can already reduce your risk of CVD.
Drink less alcohol
It is a common belief that drinking a glass of wine every night can be beneficial. Some studies suggested that alcohol in moderation may boost HDL cholesterol, which is a good form of cholesterol that is needed for good heart health. But the studies that indicated a positive correlation between low alcohol consumption and heart health may have disregarded external influencing factors. For example, even though people who drink a small amount of red wine may have a lower risk of heart disease, there may be other factors involved.
Instead, those people may be wealthier and therefore have better healthcare and education. Healthier food might also be available to them. According to a study by The Lancet, no amount of alcohol consumption is beneficial for your health. To top it off, excessive drinking is even more detrimental since it can result in a multitude of heart-related conditions such as cardiac arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, stroke, and sudden cardiac death. If you do choose to drink, it’s best to stay within the recommended amounts.
The Health Promotion Board suggests women should not drink over 10 grams of alcohol per day and men should not drink over 20 grams. Individuals with heart rhythm abnormalities or heart failure should abstain from alcohol completely. Aside from health benefits, reducing your alcohol consumption also has financial benefits. Drinking two times a month instead of four can help you save more than S$1,500 annually.
It is common knowledge that smoking causes many serious health issues. It increases heart rate, damages heart vessels and reduces oxygen levels in the blood. Smoking also harms your artery’s lining, which can result in a buildup of plaque, increasing the risk heart attack, stroke, and angina. Moreover, quitting smoking offers benefits rather quickly. A person’s risk of cardiovascular disease decreases by 50% after just one year of not smoking.
Sadly, even smokers who are aware of the risks have a hard time quitting because of tobacco’s addictive properties. The good news is that there are several methods and programs to help smokers quit for good. A person with a fairly mild addiction can reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke on a daily basis until they can completely give up the habit.
Quitting cold turkey is another option, though this method is known for its low success rate. Many smokers quit cold turkey several times before they finally stop smoking for good. Smoking cessation programs such as I Quit can be beneficial for individuals with stronger nicotine addiction.
Along with reducing the likelihood of deadly diseases, quitting smoking can help your wallet as well. Social smokers who go through a pack a week can save around S$700 per year while heavy smokers can save around S$5,100 per year.
In our modern world, stress is pretty much unavoidable, even though we know how damaging it can be to our body and mind. What’s more, its link to heart disease is disturbing. Researchers used to believe that heart attacks were caused by internal events, such as blocked blood flow as a result of block artery ruptures. However, the latest studies show that anger and stress levels are also part of the problem.
Stress can cause surges in blood pressure and heart rate, resulting in plaque instability. Heart attacks aren’t the only condition that stress can cause. People who suffer from chronic work-related stress over a long period of time have 10%-40% higher risk of CVD in comparison to people who do not have work stress.
Finding ways to relax during the day can have positive effects on your heart if you are often stressed at work. Luckily, the majority of stress reduction techniques are free. You can write down the things that stress you out throughout the day so you can see if you can make any changes in your daily life. It’s also important to set aside time to relax by going for walks, taking breaks or performing breathing exercises. After work, you can reduce stress by meditating, exercising and spending quality time with loved ones.
Stick to a heart-healthy diet
A healthy and clean diet doesn’t just help you lose weight, it can also lessen the chances of developing heart disease by making it easier to maintain a healthy weight, reducing cholesterol and giving your body the nutrients it requires to work at its best.
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is a recommended diet where you focus on fruits, vegetables, healthy protein, and whole grains while consuming less sugar, sodium and unhealthy fats. Evidence suggests that increasing your consumption of cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens can lessen the likelihood of cardiovascular mortality.
You don’t have to break the bank by buying fresh produce to get the benefits of a diet that is loaded with vegetables. Studies have found that frozen and canned produce is as healthy as fresh produce, though you should watch out for sodium levels.
Exercise is an ideal way to fight a variety of health risk factors. Aside from helping heart health, staying active reduces stress and keeps your weight in check. As a matter of fact, exercising on a regular basis can reduce the risk of many chronic conditions by 20-50%. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity at moderate intensity per week for adults up to 65 years old. Likewise, WHO recommends at least 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week, which only requires 15-30 minutes daily for five days of the week.
If you are concerned about fitting a workout into your already busy schedule, it can be helpful to know that everyday movements, such as taking the stairs or house chores, also count. Small changes like parking farther away from your workplace or using the elevator less can help you reach your weekly goal. On the weekend, you can go for long hikes or walks. If you are concerned about the monthly gym fees, have a look at large chain gyms since they can cost 45% less than boutique ones, while still offering all the classes and equipment you need to stay active.
Methods for keeping treatment affordable
Whether you are suffering from CVD or are at risk of developing the condition, there are some ways to help keep costs down. To begin with, individuals who have a high risk of developing CVD can benefit from a long term health insurance policy. Those already suffering from the condition should consider pre-existing condition insurance. Hospitalization insurance Singapore can also help cover costs related to any procedures and treatments during your hospital visit and overnight stay.
Aside from high-risk individuals or those with CVD, health insurance for expats in Singapore can ensure you get the right level of care. International health insurance plans allow you to get the help you deserve no matter where you are in the world and are beneficial for anyone who travels often.
When she’s not writing, she’s likely searching for a new restaurant or cafe to try, reading or doing yoga.
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