HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR HEART HEALTH IN 2019
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“Did you know that February is American Heart Month?’ Each one of us grows up hearing the word heart attack time and again. There are countless movie scenes which depicts actors getting a heart attack. As we grow older, everyone lives in the constant fear of getting a heart attack and is always searching answers through multiple sources for the all-important question: How to improve the condition of the heart? In this article, I will elaborate certain changes which can be incorporated to improve your heart health in 2019.
Function of the Human heart:
Before we get into the various measures to improve the condition of the heart, let us understand what exactly is the role of the heart in the human body. The human heart consists of four chambers: the left atrium, left ventricle, right atrium and right ventricle. The right side carries impure blood while the left side carries pure blood. From the right side of the heart, impure blood goes to the lung where it is purified and sent back to the left side of the heart from where it is circulated to all the body organs. The heart functions like a pump and when there is a heart attack, the ability of the heart to pump the blood is reduced and this can have dire consequences on the body functions.
So now the question is, what can you do to ensure that we have a healthy heart?
In order to improve your heart health, you should be aware of risk factors, and follow the below mentioned suggestions to build a healthy heart:
Obesity and heart diseases
Obesity can increase your risk of developing a heart attack. Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference can help determine if your weight is linked to an increase risk for developing heart disease. A waist measurement of over 40 inches in men and over 35 inches in women increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Similarly, a BMI between 25- 29.9 means that you are overweight and a BMI more than 30 means you are obese. You can calculate your BMI by using a BMI calculator. (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm). A small decrease in weight will help a great deal in cutting down your risk of developing a heart attack. Diet modifications are useful in reducing weight.
A proper balanced diet is important for healthy heart as well as for overall health. The American Heart association (AHA) suggests following changes which can be incorporated in the diet:
- Reduce salt intake: Cut down sodium intake for healthy heart. Aim to eat no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day since this can help in reducing blood pressure and high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease.
- Eat fibre-rich whole grains
- Keep an eye on portion size
- If you eat meat, choose the leanest cuts available
- Eating omega-3 –fatty acid containing fish like salmon trout and herring is also a good idea.
- Control your alcohol intake.
Limit your sugar intake. It has been suggested that increased sugar intake can also increase the risk for heart attack. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that increased sugar consumption increased the risk for death due to cardiovascular disease. The AHA also recommends cutting down on foods and beverages with added sugars.
Life Style Modifications
It is important to exercise regularly. Around 150 minutes should be spent in proper exercise every week. If a busy schedule doesn’t allow this type of exercise routine, walking or any other kind of movement should be incorporated daily. Walking is the simplest way to stay active. Instead of an elevator, take the stairs throughout the day. If you need to convey a message to a colleague, walk over to their desk instead of calling or texting. This will be helpful to maintain overall health. Tracking your activity level by monitoring the number of steps taken throughout the day is also a great way to get motivated to increase your activity levels. You can invest into a wearable device to track your steps or you can also use your smart phone to record your steps and activity level
Smokers have four times higher chance to die of heart diseases such as heart attack and stroke. Moreover, smokers also have three times higher chance to die of sudden cardiac arrest. Once a person quits smoking, his/her risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke is actually cut by half. Within 5 – 15 years after quitting smoking, the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease is almost similar to that of someone who never smoked.
Along with diet and exercise, mental health is also important to have a healthy heart. Get enough sleep and practice mindfulness to manage stress and anxiety. Things like yoga can also help to deal with stress management. Try and achieve a good work-life balance. Take time off from your work and go out on a vacation. Give your mind and body a chance to relax and rejuvenate.
Awareness about health of your own heart
People over 45 years old should regularly consult their physician regarding the condition of their heart. Regular check-up of blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels should be done. It is recommended to discuss life style and family history of any heart diseases with the doctor.
If any immediate family members have a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, heart attacks, heart disease and so on, a regular heart health check should be done.
Maintain your oral health
Oral health and heart disease: Are they even related? This is the question which you might be getting. It has been shown that bacteria which cause gum disease can also cause inflammation in blood vessels and increase the risk for development of heart disease by almost 50%. These were the findings from a study named as the PAROKRANK study (Periodontitis and its Relation to Coronary Artery Disease) which investigated the link between gum disease and the risk of developing a heart attack. The findings of this study were published in Circulation emphasized the importance of maintaining oral health. Brush and floss your teeth regularly. Regular dental check-ups should be done to ensure that your teeth and gums are in good shape.
Take Home Messages for a Healthy Heart in 2019
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol intake
- Eat Healthy, Eat Better.
- Control your weight
- Limit your sugar intake
- Maintain your dental hygiene
- Do a yearly physical health check-up. Follow up with your cardiologist in case any heart related abnormalities are detected
- Exercise and maintain a good work-life balance. Reduce the stress levels and allow yourself time to unwind and relax
If you are wondering "where is the best heart doctor near me?" Look no further. To search for heart specialists in India, Singapore Dubai, Thailand, Malaysia, London , please use the Mya Care search engine.
- Yang Q, Zhang Z, Gregg EW, Flanders WD, Merritt R, Hu FB. Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4):516–524. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13563
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