Top 10 Tips for Healthy Heart
There are many steps people can take to try to prevent heart disease. You can start by concentrating on key lifestyle areas such as eating, exercise, smoking and drinking, and considering other factors like family history, diabetes and stress.
Today’s fast-paced life and workplace pressures escalate stress levels, taking a toll on one’s heart. We must realize that the healing power of the body decreases when under stress, leading to many complications like hypertension and poor immunity. Today, even youngsters are prone to heart ailments. So, it’s very important to stay healthy and manage your stress levels by understanding the risk factors
1. Stop smoking
Quitting smoking is the single most important thing a person can do to live longer. If you are a smoker, you are twice as likely to have a heart attack than a non-smoker. But from the moment you stop smoking, the risk of starts to reduce. With public smoking bans recently introduced, there has never been a better time to give up.
2. Cut down on salt
Too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Avoid foods like crisps, salted nuts, canned and packet soups and sauces, baked beans and canned vegetables, pork pies, pizzas and ready meals. Many breakfast cereals and breads that appear healthy also contain high levels of salt, so keep your eye on these too.
3. Watch your diet
A healthy diet can help to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, and can also help increase the chances of survival after a heart attack. You should try to have a balanced diet, containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, oily fish, starchy foods such as wholegrain bread, pasta and rice. Avoid foods like biscuits, cakes, pastries and dairy products that are high in saturated fats and sugar.
4. Monitor your alcohol
Too much alcohol can damage the heart muscle, increase blood pressure and also lead to weight gain. Binge drinking will increase your risk of having a heart attack, so you should aim to limit your intake to one to two units a day.
5. Get active
The heart is a muscle and it needs exercise to keep fit so that it can pump blood efficiently round your body. You should aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day. If this seems too daunting, start off gently and build up gradually. Keeping fit not only benefits your physical health – it improves your mental health and well-being too.
6. Manage your weight
The number of people who are overweight in Britain is rising fast – already more than half of the adult population is overweight or obese. Carrying a lot of extra weight as fat can greatly affect your health and increases the risk of life-threatening conditions such as coronary heart disease and diabetes. If you are overweight or obese, start by making small, but healthy changes to what you eat, and try to become more active.
7. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked by your GP
The higher your blood pressure, the shorter your life expectancy. People with high blood pressure run a higher risk of having a stroke or a heart attack. High levels of cholesterol in the blood – produced by the liver from saturated fats – can lead to fatty deposits in your coronary arteries that increase your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and diseases that affect the circulation. You can help lower your cholesterol level by exercising and eating high-fibre foods such as porridge, beans, pulses, lentils, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
8. Learn to manage your stress levels
If you find things are getting on top of you, you may fail to eat properly, smoke and drink too much and this may increase your risk of a heart attack.
9. Check your family history
If a close relative is at risk of developing coronary heart disease from smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lack of physical activity, obesity and diabetes, then you could be at risk too.
10. Make sure you can recognize the early signs of coronary heart disease
Tightness or discomfort in the chest, neck, arm or stomach which comes on when you exert yourself but goes away with rest may be the first sign of angina, which can lead to a heart attack if left untreated.