Heart disease is a significant cause of death across the world. Heart disease is a combination of health conditions that affect the heart, including arrhythmias/heart rhythm problems, coronary artery disease, and other blood vessel diseases. Cardiovascular disease (atherosclerotic disease) is another heart condition involving blocked and narrowed blood vessels, leading to a heart attack.
Heart problems are most often linked to lifestyle. However, there are certain things we can do to promote a healthy heart and reduce the risk of heart disease. A heart-healthy lifestyle includes the 10 ideas below:
Eating Heart-healthy Choices
A heart-healthy diet will lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. This is because high-fat content from the foods we eat builds up within the walls of blood vessels, narrowing them (atherosclerosis). This effect is gradual and can start from an early age advancing over time. In some cases, atherosclerosis results in insufficient blood, reaching the heart and leading to angina.
In other cases, it results in inflammation, leading to cracks within blood vessels. As blood clots seal the opening, it forms clots that further inhibit blood flow to the heart. The insufficient supply of oxygen to the heart, commonly known as a heart attack, can result in cell death within the heart.
The foods you choose should be low in sodium content, translated, and saturated fats, which are positively linked to heart disease. It would help if you also reduced the intake of meat.
Heart-friendly foods include:
- Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Healthy protein foods such as seeds, nuts, and legumes
- Red meat should be eaten at most three times a week. The healthiest choice of red meat is lean meat.
- Heart-healthy cooking oils include olive, avocado, seeds, and nut oils.
- For flavoring foods, you should avoid salt and use herbs and spices.
- Dairy products should include cheese, yogurt, and unflavored milk.
- Chicken should be eaten skinless as the skin is rich in fat. The consumption of chicken meat should also be kept in moderation as it contains.
Regular Physical Activity
Regular physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. With this condition, plague forms within blood vessels leading to the heart. The narrowing of vessels reduces the blood supply to the heart. In other cases, the plague results in ruptured vessels and clot formation.
How Does Physical Exercise Benefit Your Heart?
- Regular exercise helps break down triglycerides and manage high blood pressure.
- Daily workouts will also help in the strengthening of heart muscles. The heart can pump blood more effectively to the lungs and other body parts with stronger muscles. The body enjoys enough oxygen supply, which improves the functionality of muscles and other body organs, including the heart.
- Exercising increases your heart rate and gets your lungs pumping
- Studies also show that moderate exercise helps widen blood vessels, increasing their blood capacity and ability to eliminate waste.
- Regular physical exercise also results in the formation of good cholesterol (HDL).
- Physical exercise like brisk walking helps burn calories and maintain a healthy weight by burning excess fat.
Cigarette smoking is an example of an unhealthy habit. It's a leading cause of death in the United States, with one out of every five people dying of related illnesses. The good news is that it is preventable. But unfortunately, smoking has health implications for all parts of the body and blood cells.
Smoking damages the structure of the heart and its functions, leading to arteriosclerosis. The condition results in the hardening and narrowing of blood vessels due to the formation of a waxy plague. With this condition, the body's blood flow is limited, and some organ cells might suffer from insufficient oxygen and die. When this happens to the blood vessels supplying the heart, it leads to ischemic heart disease, whereby the individual suffers from arrhythmias, heart failure, and heart attack.
Keep Your Cholesterol in Check
Cholesterol is an essential component in the body as it is a significant component of cell membranes. It also helps form hormones such as adrenal hormones, testosterone, and estrogen. Cholesterol is a significant factor in the production of vitamin D, production of bile acids,
The body manufactures cholesterol from the food we eat. There is good and bad cholesterol. While bad cholesterol clogs blood vessels, the bad cholesterol gets rid of the bad cholesterol. The significant sources of cholesterol are animal products such as meat, eggs, and full dairy. The healthy food choices we saw earlier will help keep your cholesterol in check. Certain foods have been proven to lower cholesterol levels, including sunflower oil(polyunsaturated oil), oats, legumes, and saponins-containing foods such as alfalfa sprouts and chickpeas.
While some cases of cholesterol are diet-related, others are genetic. Unfortunately, genetic cholesterol is not easily controlled through diet and lifestyle changes. Therefore, getting clinical advice and medications is necessary to manage heightened cholesterol levels.
Keep Your Blood Pressure in Check
To keep your heart and blood vessels healthy, it is essential to keep monitoring your blood pressure levels. High blood pressure or hypertension over time affects the heart and blood vessels. High blood pressure damages arteries that carry blood to the heart. These vessels can be damaged and blocked, preventing blood flow and leading to a heart attack.
Hypertension overworks the heart, and it sometimes causes the heart to enlarge, reducing the ability to function normally.
Regular check-ups are the only way to keep your blood pressure in check. It is also essential to know the signs of high blood pressure to act when you experience similar symptoms. Also important is to be aware of the risk factors to reduce the risk of battling the condition.
Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check
People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing heart problems. This is because high blood glucose damages blood vessels. It also destroys the nerves that control the functioning of the heart and blood vessels. The damages result over prolonged periods. People who have diabetes are twice more likely to suffer heart problems than others. Therefore, managing blood sugar levels and keeping them as normal as possible is essential.
It is essential to keep regular checks on your blood sugar level to ensure a healthy heart. There are recommended lifestyles and medications for diabetes that help prevent blood sugar from increasing. It is also essential to be aware of the signs of high blood sugar/diabetes and risk factors. Some conditions and habits in this article are high-risk factors combined with diabetes, heightening the risk of heart disease. They include smoking, alcohol, obesity, high cholesterol, and genetic factors.
Stress is a normal body reaction aimed at protecting the person. However, high-stress levels can damage a person, and stress management is critical. When the body is under stress, it produces a hormone called cortisol. Over time, high levels of cortisol cause an increase in blood sugar, blood pressure, triglycerides, and blood cholesterol. All these conditions are risk factors for heart disease.
Having adequate sleep, or 7-9 hours of sleep daily, is also a healthy habits that can help you manage stress and keep your heart healthy
Taking Healthy Levels of Alcohol
While moderate drinking promotes heart health, too much alcohol harms your health. If you care about your heart health, you must take alcohol in moderation. High levels of alcohol affect the heart muscles, resulting in cardiomyopathy—binge drinking results in arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats linked to heart attack). Heavy drinking is also a significant cause of high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Being overweight is a major risk for heart disease. It can lead to health problems such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension, risk factors for heart problems.
Apart from these conditions, excess weight can bring about injury to the heart muscles. As the heart gets overworked by the body's demands, it wears down, and the individual can suffer heart failure. Therefore, if you suspect yourself overweight, you take measurements of your BMI or Body Mass Index and shed extra body weight to reduce heart problems.
Regular Check-ups by a Doctor
Regular medical check-ups and clinical tests can detect early heart problems at the early stages. The earlier a medical condition, the easier it gets to manage. You should see your doctor for a check-up once every three years if you are below 50 years old and in good health. For persons over 50 years, health check-ups should be done annually.
Heart health-related information is crucial. It will help if you read widely on heart-related problems: their causes, signs and symptoms, prevention, and treatment. In addition, it would be best to read about other health-related topics to conversate with the most beneficial and destructive habits in your life.
With the right information, you are better positioned to care for your health and make healthy life choices. You can get information from health programs, on the Internet, by reading books and health professionals. Heart-related illnesses are fatal and very expensive to treat due to the equipment and the limited number of cardiologists. With the right information, you can advance the same care to your loved ones.