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Ten Important Things You Can Do to Keep Your Heart Healthy


February 20, 2021

Table of Contents

Heart disease is a significant cause of death across the world. Heart disease is a combination of different health conditions that affect the heart, including arrhythmias/heart rhythm problems, coronary artery disease, and other blood vessel diseases. Cardiovascular disease (atherosclerotic disease) is also another heart condition that involves blocked and narrowed blood vessels, leading to a heart attack.

Heart problems are most often linked to lifestyle. There are certain things we can do to promote heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease.

1. Healthy Eating Habits:

A healthy diet will lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. High-fat content from the foods we eat builds up within the walls of blood vessels, narrowing them (atherosclerosis). The effect of this is gradually and can start from an early age advancing over time. In some cases, atherosclerosis results in insufficient blood, reaching the heart leading to angina. In other cases, it results in inflammation, which can lead to cracks within blood vessels. As blood clots to 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 cells’ death within the heart.

The foods you choose to eat should be low in sodium content, translated, and saturated fats, 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.
  • Healthy cooking oils choices include olive, avocado, seeds, and nut oils.
  • For flavoring foods, you should avoid salt and make use of 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 at moderation as it contains.

2. 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 physical exercise helps in the breakdown of triglyceride and takes care of high blood pressure.
  • Daily workouts will also help in the strengthening of heart muscles. With stronger muscles, the heart can pump blood more effectively to the lungs and other body parts. The body enjoys enough oxygen supply, which improves the functionality of muscles and other body organs, including the heart.
  • Studies also show that physical exercise helps widen blood vessels, which increases their blood capacity and their ability to get rid of waste.
  • Regular physical exercise also results in the formation of good cholesterol (HDL).
  • Physical exercise helps burn calories and maintain a healthy weight by burning excess fat. Obesity and being overweight are risk factors for heart disease. 

3. Avoiding Smoking:

Cigarette smoking is 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. 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 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 organs 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.

4. 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 in the formation of 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 in keeping your cholesterol in check. Certain foods have been proven to lower cholesterol levels, including sunflower oil(polyunsaturated oil), oats, legumes, saponins containing foods such as alfalfa sprouts and chickpeas.

While some cases of cholesterol are diet-related, others are genetic. Genetic cholesterol is not easily controlled through diet and lifestyle changes. Therefore, it is necessary to get clinical advice and medications to take care of heightened levels of cholesterol.

5. Keep Your Blood Pressure in Check: 

To keep your heart 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 leading to a  heart attack.

Hypertension overworks the heart, and it sometimes causes the heart to enlarge, reducing the ability to function normally.

The only way you can keep your blood pressure in check is through regular tests. 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.

6. Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check: 

People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing heart problems. 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, it is essential to manage blood sugar levels and keep them at normal as much as possible.

It is essential to keep regular checks up on your blood sugar level. There are recommended lifestyles and medications for diabetes people that help prevent blood sugar from going up. It is also essential to be aware of the signs of high blood sugar/diabetes and risk factors. Some conditions and habits listed in this article are high-risk factors combined with diabetes, heightening the risk of heart disease. They include smoking, alcohol, obesity, high cholesterol levels, and genetic factors.

7. Stress Management: 

Stress is a normal body reaction aimed at protecting the person. High levels of stress can be damaging to a person, and stress management is critical. When the body is under stress, it produces a hormone known as 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.

8. Taking Healthy Levels of Alcohol: 

While moderate drinking promotes heart health, too much alcohol is bad for your health. If you care about your heart health, you will need to 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.

9. Maintaining a Healthy Weight: 

Obesity and being overweight lead to health problems such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension, both of which are risk factors for heart problems.

Apart from these conditions, the 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. If you suspect yourself to be overweight, you take measurements of your BMI and shed the extra weight to reduce heart problems.

10. 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 in good health. For persons over 50 years, health check-ups should be done annually.

Be Informed

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. It would be best to read on other health-related topics to be conversant with the most beneficial and destructive habits in your life. With the right information, you are better positioned to take care of your health and make healthy life choices. You can get the 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.

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