Following on from our last blog, we look at some simple steps to keeping your heart healthy and strong
Prevention is the best medicine. The majority of cases of premature heart disease & stroke are preventable through healthy lifestyle behaviours. Here are some steps to keeping your heart healthy and strong
Be smoke free
Being smoke free is no doubt the best thing you can do to protect your heart. Smoking affects the vessels that supply blood to your heart and other parts of your body. It reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and damages blood vessel walls. Smoking also increases the stiffness of the blood vessels making it harder for them to expand and contract as needed and more likely to split. These changes to the arteries can cause a heart attack, stroke or angina.
Keep moving at any age and at any level of fitness. Exercise has many benefits beyond simple fitness and flexibility. It stimulates the body’s immune system, reduces blood thickening so it clots less easily, improves brain function and lowers blood pressure.
Strength training for older people assists in preventing disabilities, slow down dementia and reduce the risk of accidental falls.
Achieve and Maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a varied diet of healthy foods can help with your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol and it is important to think about how you eat over days, weeks and even months.
Your food intake should consist of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. These foods are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Eating plenty of this type of food is linked to people having healthier hearts and research shows there is a link between eating them and having a lower risk of heart disease
Healthy protein sources, especially fish and seafood, legumes (such as beans and lentils), nuts and seeds are also good for your heart and health.
Unsalted nuts and seeds contribute unsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6) to our diets. These include nuts and linseed, chia or tahini, and avocados. The same goes for cooking oils made from plants or seeds like olive and canola.These types of fats help to reduce 'bad' cholesterol (LDL) and increase 'good' cholesterol (HDL), reducing the risk of heart disease.
Use herbs and spices to flavour foods instead of adding salt when you're cooking. A diet high in salt increases your risk of hypertension and heart disease. A healthy eating pattern, based on the previous four principles, will be naturally lower in salt.
Drink water every day. Water is by far the best drink to choose. It's cheap, quenches your thirst and has no kilojoules and it’s important to also reduce alcohol intake.
Manage and Measure
Keep track of your health measurements. This includes things like cholesterol levels, blood pressure, weight and sugar levels. Remember blood pressure is not usually something you can feel. If it’s too high, it needs to be treated.
Look after your mental health
Your state of mind can protect but also damage heart health and risk factors that may lead to heart disease include stress, anger and depression.
There can be a greater risk of heart disease for people who have depression are socially isolated or do not have good social support. Having a good social life with family and friends can help.