Heart attack is a medical emergency that requires an immediate response to to get the blood flowing to the damaged part of your heart muscle to limit the amount of permanent damage to your heart muscle. While a heart attack is a sudden and highly distressing event, it is usually the result of an accumulation of poor lifestyle decisions taken overtime. This means that there is ample opportunity to ward off the threat of having one if you lead a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a nutritious diet.

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  • Heart attack: The vegetable proven to reduce your risk

Fruit is a key component of a nutritious diet, and certain fruits have been shown to provide particular heart-healthy benefits.

Fruits that belong to the berry family, for example, have been shown to boost heart health in many studies.

The benefits are attributed to the antioxidants found in berries such as anthocyanins.

As the NHS explains: “Antioxidants are compounds that are thought to play a role in protecting against heart disease by interfering with molecules known as ‘free radicals’.”

Read more: Heart attack: How your sleep and socioeconomic status may be linked to heart disease risk

Free radicals are thought to cause damage to blood vessels, which can disrupt the flow of blood to the heart – a dangerous precursor to heart attacks.

Berries have also been shown to protect against mechanisms that can lead to a heart attack, such as high cholesterol.

One study in 27 adults with metabolic syndrome – a cluster of conditions associated with a higher risk of heart disease – showed that drinking a beverage made of freeze-dried strawberries for eight weeks decreased “bad” LDL cholesterol by 11 percent.

How does LDL cholesterol raise your risk of having a heart attack?

LDL causes the build-up of fatty deposits within your arteries, reducing or blocking the flow of blood and oxygen your heart needs. This can lead to chest pain and heart attack.

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Additionally, an analysis of 22 studies showed that eating berries was associated with reductions in “bad” LDL cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, body mass index and certain markers of inflammation.

Emphasising the blood pressure-lowering benefits of eating berries, another study found that eating blueberries daily improved the function of cells that line the blood vessels, which help control blood pressure and blood clotting.

How does high blood pressure lead to a heart attack?

High blood pressure narrows your arteries, restricting your blood flow.

When blood flow is restricted or blocked completely, the heart muscle is starved of oxygen. This is a catalyst for heart attacks.

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  • How to live longer: Eat this amount of fruit and veg daily

In addition to upping your intake of fruit, vegetable intake is equally as important for your heart, and leafy green vegetables have been singled out for their protective benefits.

The key mineral found in leafy green vegetables is vitamin K, which has been shown to protect your arteries and promote proper blood clotting.

Leafy greens are also high in dietary nitrates, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure, decrease arterial stiffness and improve the function of cells lining the blood vessels.

Some studies have also found a link between increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables and a lower risk of heart disease.

One analysis of eight studies found that increasing leafy green vegetable intake was associated with up to a 16 percent lower incidence of heart disease.

Another study in 29,689 women showed that a high intake of leafy green vegetables was linked to a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease.

How do I know if I am having a heart attack?

According to the British Heart Foundation, heart attack symptoms vary from one person to another but the most common signs of a heart attack are:

  • Pain or discomfort in your chest that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away
  • Pain that may spread to your left or right arm, or to your neck, jaw, back or stomach. For some people the pain or tightness is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable
  • Feeling sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath

“It’s possible to have a heart attack without experiencing the above symptoms or ‘classic’ chest pain,” adds the health site.

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