Heart disease is the leading cause of death all around the globe. Your habits and lifestyle plays an important role when it comes to managing your heart health. Having a healthy heart means having a healthy life. A few simple changes in your life can make a huge difference. Here are 10 tips towards a Healthy Heart:
1. You are what you eat
Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens will not only make your heart healthier but also reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
– Avoid foods high in salt and sugar content because these cause diseases like diabetes and hypertension which are contributing factors for cardiovascular disease.
– Limit your intake of deep-fried foods which are high in calories because they tend to raise your blood cholesterol levels resulting in coronary artery blockage.
– Copious amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (omega-3 and omega-6) fats present in nuts, avocados, and fish promote heart health.
– Including whole grain in your meals can be beneficial as they are rich sources of dietary fiber and Vit B.
2. Be active
Regular exercise lowers your risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack. Physical activities like walking, jogging, running or training at a gym are wonderful ways to keep you fit, healthy and happy. Choose an activity that you enjoy and incorporate it in your day to day life.
Yoga can be done every day after your vigorous routine to release stress, enhance your mood and improve flexibility.
3. Quit Smoking
Smoking damages blood vessels leading to your heart, brain, legs and other parts of the body. It increases blood pressure and causes buildup of plaque in the blood vessels, which results in heart attack or stroke. Smoking has serious consequences; it not only affects your heart and brain but also causes lung diseases such as emphysema or lung cancer. If you are a smoker you must try to stop smoking.
4. Limit your alcohol intake
Moderate levels of alcohol can increase HDL (good cholesterol), however, consuming excessive alcohol may trigger heart conditions such as palpitations or irregular heartbeat. General recommendation is 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women. Although alcohol may provide some minor benefits but if you do not already drink, you shouldn’t start doing so because of the long-term negative effects of alcohol consumption.
5. Check your weight
Being overweight can be dangerous for your heart. Remember to keep moving, this will help you to shed those extra kilos and you’ll feel better and your heart will be healthier.
6. Reduce your stress
Stress is one of the main factors affecting your heart and other organs. Stress can push you towards things that can seriously harm your heart such as excessive smoking and drinking, emotional eating and a lot more. Learn to relieve your tensions. Take up a hobby, listen to music, practice meditation to keep your mind calm. Let your anxieties and worries float away. Studies show there is a strong link between depression and heart disease. If you suffer from depression talk to your family or friends and if need be, do not hesitate to visit a psychologist.
7. Understand and monitor your blood sugar and cholesterol levels
Make sure you regularly check your blood sugar and cholesterol levels and understand how to manage them. Follow the advice of your physician, if you have elevated blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It is important to realize that you can develop heart disease if you have diabetes or/and high cholesterol levels.
8. Control your blood pressure
Hypertension (high blood pressure) can significantly damage your heart. Control your blood pressure by taking your medication on a regular basis and cutting down your salt intake. Keep in mind that you cannot feel high blood pressure, therefore it’s vital to get it checked. Learn to monitor and manage your blood pressure.
9. Stay hydrated
You must drink at least 5-8 glasses in a day and more if it’s a hot day. Cardiologists suggest drinking water especially, before going to bed helps improve blood circulation in the hours when you’re at greatest risk for a heart attack. Good hydration will not only protect your heart but will also keep your skin and hair nourished and healthy.
10. Screening for heart disease
Getting yourself screened for heart disease is also an essential aspect of lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and a heart attack. If you have risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, and/or a family history of stroke or heart disease, your doctor would recommend stringent screening. You may be prescribed certain clinical tests, for example; ECG (electrocardiogram), ECHO (Echocardiogram), TMT (Treadmill test), etc. Additionally, conditions like high lipid levels, blood sugar, and high blood pressure need to be closely monitored as they can potentially lead to heart disease. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with any heart ailment, getting yourself routinely tested and examined is beneficial. Moreover, screening results help you and your healthcare provider take steps in the right direction to protect your heart.
Written By: Dr. Rahul Sawant , MD, CCT, Cardiology (UK), MRCP (UK), FACC (USA), Interventional Fellow (New York), Asst. Professor, BVMCH (Pune)