Ways to a healthier heart. Keep fit, stay healthy, the natural way!6 ways to keep ypur heart healthy

HOW TO KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY.

stop smoking or use of tobacco

1. DO NOT SMOKE OR USE TOBACCO

One of the most significant risk factors which lead to a weak heart is smoking or inhaling tobacco in any form. The chemicals that tobacco contains damages the heart and the various blood vessels, especially the arteries. They make the arteries narrower (atherosclerosis) which leads to constant high blood pressure. This results in a strain on the heart and can lead to heart failure.

Oxygen in our blood is replaced by carbon monoxide produced by cigarette smoking. This causes the heart to work harder than usual in order to make up for the oxygen deficiency in the body. It also results in increased blood pressure. Female smokers and those who consume birth control pills, have a greater chance of heart failure or a stroke than to those females who don't do either as both increase the risk blood clots.

When it comes to preventing heart diseases, even the smallest of small amounts is unsafe. Nevertheless, the risk increases with increase in smoking levels. Smokeless tobacco, low-nicotine, low-tar cigarettes as well as passive smoking are risky too. Smoking at social gatherings or at a bar only is just as harmful.

The good news is that as soon as you quit smoking your heart damage risks drop almost to those of non smokers in about five years time. Also, regardless of how ever much you may have smoked, you'll be rewarded almost as soon as you stop.

A 30 minute exercise can do wonder

2. EXERCISE FOR 30 MINUTES ON MOST DAYS OF THE WEEK

Risks of fatal heart diseases can be greatly reduced by regular physical exercise. Moreover, when it is combined with maintaining a healthy diet, the results are even better.

Physical exercise helps you to keep your weight in check and reduces chances of other activities to put a strain on the heart. They also prevent and reduce the chances of high pressure,high cholesterol levels and diabetes.

Moderately intensive physical exercise for 30-60 minutes on majority of the days of the week should be tried to achieve. If you are unable to meet these guidelines there is no reason to lament and give up, as a regular 10 minutes exercise will prove just as fruitful.

Regular and simple activities such as gardening, housekeeping, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and taking the dog out for a walk all contribute to the heart's well being. Frequent, longer and intensive workouts are more beneficial than strenuous ones. However, consult your general physician before taking up an exercise regime.

Healthy Diet for Healthy Heart

3. EAT A HEART-HEALTHY DIET

The risk of heart diseases are greatly reduced by maintaining a heart-healthy diet. Two very effective heart-healthy diet plans are Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan and the Mediterranean Diet.

Diets rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains provide protection to the heart. Certain types of fish, beans and low fat protein sources contribute to a healthy heart.

Limiting certain fats in your diet is very essential. Of all the various fats (saturated, polyunsaturated, mono-unsaturated and trans fat), the amount of saturated fat should not be allowed to exceed 10% and trans fat should be completely avoided.

Major sources of saturated fat:
  • Red meat
  • Coconut and palm oils
  • Dairy products
Major sources of trans fat:
  • Deep-fried fast foods
  • Bakery products
  • Packaged snacks
  • Margarines
  • Crackers

We know that the product contains trans fat if the nutrition label reads “partially hydrogenated”.

Plant-based fat sources such as avocado, olives, etc. are extremely healthy for the heart and help in cutting down on the bad type of cholesterol.

Most people have a deficiency of fruits and vegetables in their daily diets. The goal is to add many of these fruits and vegetables to the diet with about 5-10 servings each day. This not only helps maintain a healthy heart, but also prevents cancer. Chances of heart failure can be reduced by eating several servings of fishes like salmon and mackerel every week.

Alcohol consumption must be kept in mind when talking about a heart-healthy diet. If you are an alcoholic, make sure you provide your body with it at a moderate level. For women (all ages) that means a one drink a day, and for men of 65 and below it extends up to two drinks, while for men above 65 it is limited to only one per day. At that level, alcohol instead of becoming a threat to your health can have a positive effect on your heart.

Maintaining weight is the key to the good health

4. MAINTAINING A PROPER WEIGHT.

The chances of heart diseases are increased if you're overweight (especially if you carry unusually extra amount of fat at your middles). Increased weight leads to high levels of cholesterol, a hike in the blood pressure levels and diabetes as well.

Body mass index (BMI) takes into account the height and the weight of the body and tells us if we have a healthy or unhealthy fat percentage in the body. If the BMI number is 25 or above, it indicates higher blood fats, high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart damage.

Though the BMI is a good guide, it is not a perfect one, as muscles weigh more than fat. Thus, women who are well built, muscular and physically fit, are observed to have high BMI levels, but no threats to the heart. Hence, to calculate abdominal fat, the waist circumference is taken into account.

  • Men are considered overweight if their weight measurement exceeds 40 inches (101 cm).
  • Women are considered overweight if their weight measurement exceeds 35 inches (88.9 cm). Even the most minimal amount of weight loss can be beneficial. Reducing your weight by about, 5-10 % will prove fruitful as you will notice a lower blood pressure level, and lower cholesterol levels also reducing the risk of diabetes.
getting quality sleep is one of top priorities

5. GET ENOUGH QUALITY SLEEP

You can cause serious harm to your health by not depriving yourself of sleep. Sleep deprived people have a higher risk of being seriously affected by obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes and depression.

Majority of the adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep everyday. If you find yourself struggling to get out of bed and pressing the snooze button on your alarm clock multiple number of times, it means you are sleep deprived. However, if you wake up refreshed and without the help of the alarm clock, you are doing completely fine.

Sleep must be made one of the top most priorities of life if it isn't already. As cliched as it may sound, make a sleep schedule and stick to it. Keep your bedroom dark and quiet; it contributes to a good restful sleep.

Some people feel tired throughout the day even after getting enough sleep. In this case, do ask your doctor to evaluate your sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea can cause the blockage of air through your windpipe while you are asleep.

Signs and symptoms :
  • Snoring loudly
  • Waking up several times at night
  • Waking up with a headache, sore throat or dry mouth
  • Memory or learning problems
  • Gasping for air during sleep

For curing sleep apnea, one must try losing weight or using a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) device which prevents any blockage of air during sleep. It is said to reduce the chances of heart diseases originating from sleep apnea.

Regular health screening

6. GET REGULAR HEALTH SCREENINGS.

Our heart and blood vessels are majorly affected and harmed by high levels of cholesterol and and increased blood pressure. Astonishing thing being, that you won't know about either of them unless you go for regular check ups. Thus, regular screenings are extremely essential.

  • Blood pressure – Screenings for blood pressure usually start from childhood. An average adult must have their blood pressure levels checked every two years (if not more frequently for having been challenged by other factors of heart diseases). Optimal BP levels on mercury are 120/80 mm.
  • Cholesterol levels – A check up every five years is recommended for adults above 20 years of age if they have a high blood pressure level or are victims of other factors causing heart damage. Children who have a family history of heart diseases must get their cholesterol levels checked as well. Otherwise, if you are healthy enough, men can get their cholesterol levels checked after the age of 35,and women after the age of 45.
  • Diabetes screenings – Since diabetes is very likely to cause heart diseases, you may want it to be screened once in a while. The doctor will inform you about the frequencies of the screenings. If you have a family history of heart diseases, caused by obesity and the like, your doctor is likely to recommend early screenings. If your weight is normal, according to the American Diabetes Association, you should start screening at the age of about 45, and retest every 3 years.


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