Valentines Day is beautifully sentimental but when we think about the heart, we must not forget the serious issue of heart health. Deaths from heart and circulatory disease are falling in the UK but they remain the UK’s largest cause of death. According to the British Heart Foundation, 180,000 people died from Cardiovascular Disease, (CVD) which accounted for one in three deaths in this country. Even though our genetic inheritance may predispose us to CVD looking after the health of your heart makes sense.
Whatever your age it is worth building good habits of eating healthily, exercising, and learning to relax which all help strengthen the coronary arteries and protect them from disease. The following suggestions could help save your life.
- Stop Smoking
This is of major importance for the health of your heart and will have an enormous positive impact on your overall health.
- Restrict your Caffeine and Salt Intake
Those numerous cups of coffee and tea are also putting a strain on your heart. Caffeine addiction, yes it is an addiction, is unhealthy for the heart and arteries. Caffeine adds to the workload of the heart and increases adrenal activity, making arrhythmias more common. Also, limit your intake of salt, so read food labels - excessive salt in your diet increases the risk of high blood pressure which stresses the heart.
- Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic activity of at least thirty minutes five days a week will greatly improve the efficiency of the heart as a pump, tone the entire arterial system, reduce serum cholesterol, reduce the chance of abnormal blood clotting and help balance the activity of the autonomic nervous system so “Move that Body”!
- Reduce LDL Cholesterol (the bad cholesterol)
It is known that high cholesterol is an important predictor of a heart attack, because it leads to fatty deposits building up in the walls of the coronary arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Choose the right type of fat in your diet for example olive oil and fish oils which are beneficial to the heart. Avoid excessive animal fat; remove fat from meat and the skin from chicken. Reduce your meat intake and eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Learn to Relax
Stress is bad for your health and can increase the risk of heart attacks in a number of ways. Stress increases the activity of the adrenal glands and sympathetic nervous system which cause the heart to work harder and increases the risk of arrhythmias (deviation from the normal rhythm of the heart) and coronary artery spasm. Learning to relax reduces the risk of heart attack.
- Manage Your Weight
If you are overweight you are increasing the heart’s workload and putting a strain on all the organs of the body and your joints. Make the decision to reduce your weight slowly by lifestyle changes – this will greatly improve your overall health and the health of your cardiovascular system.
Live with joy and health.
Elizabeth Beetham BSc.Hons
Tel: 07773 790736