10 Ways to Protect and Improve Heart Health

Heart Health

The heart is the center of the cardiovascular system. There many ways you can protect your heart and health. Following a healthy diet, staying happy and stressfree, and exercising regularly routinely are key strategies for a healthy heart. This is also vital for your overall health.

To protect and improve heart health, you need to know the things that you should do and avoid. Here are some simple ways to protect and improve heart health:

  • Avoid Stress: Long-term stress can increase the levels of cortisol, which can cause blood cholesterol, blood pressure, sugar levels, and triglycerides to increase. Stress reduces the blood flow to the heart muscle, and more, and has been identified as a risk factor for heart disease. So, identify the cause of your stress and learn to manage it.
  • Take steps to resolve constant depression or anxiety: Studies have found that anxiety or long-term emotional stress can increase the risk for sudden cardiac death. Try activities like yoga, meditation, or other methods that make can you feel good and improve your health. Also, share your problems with someone you feel comfortable. Discuss matters with your provider and follow his/her guidance on addressing depression and anxiety.
  • Reduce excess body weight: Excess fat, especially belly fat, increases risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and harmful forms of cholesterol. It leads to plaque deposits in the arteries and can cause a heart attack. Obesity reduces the capacity of the heart to pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs. A recent study found that people of normal weight who have belly fat have a higher risk of dying. To avoid fat build-up, focus on foods that keep your daily calorie intake low naturally, such as
    • Vegetables
    • Water-rich whole grains
    • Beans
    • Whole fruits

    Women should maintain a waist circumference of less than 35 inches, men, less than 40 inches. To learn whether you at a healthy weight, calculate your Body Mass Index by entering your height and weight and see if it ranges between the normal value 18.5 and 25.

    body mass index

    If you find you are not at a healthy weight, do what’s necessary to achieve it.

  • Quit Smoking: Smoking can cause irregular heart rhythm, increase heart rate, and constrict the major arteries. All this will affect the heart’s functioning. Smoking raises blood pressure and increases the risk of stroke. Other life-threatening conditions that smoking can cause are lung cancer, breathing problems, kidney cancer, emphysema. If you have problems quitting, consult your doctor for proper advice.
  • Limit alcohol intake: Excess consumption of alcohol can lead to an increased risk of hypertension, weakened heart muscles, and irregular heartbeat.
  • Control food portion size: While maintaining a proper diet, it is equally important to regulate how much you eat. Consider having larger portions of low-calories foods that are rich in nutrients such as fruits and vegetables, and smaller portions of high-calorie food high in sodium such as processed, refined, or fast food. Always keep track of your food intake. Consult your healthcare provider before you start any new diet.
  • Foods to avoid: For a stronger, healthier heart, stay away from foods that are high in trans fat and saturated fat. Avoid or limit the following foods:
    • Crackers
    • Fried foods
    • Doughnuts
    • Processed foods
    • Non-dairy creamer
    • Baked goods

    The American Heart Association recommends not consuming more than 14 grams of saturated fat and 2 grams of trans fat daily.

  • Foods to include: To minimize the risk of heart disease, stick to a balanced diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B/folic acid, and fiber. Foods to eat:
    • Walnuts, Soybeans, Lake Trout, and Salmon are omega-3 fatty acids content foods that reduce inflammation, decrease blood pressure and prevent plaque buildup, the American Heart Association recommended to consume fatty fish at least two times a week.
    • Spinach, Bananas, Sweet Potatoes, and Avocados are potassium content foods, it reduces blood pressure and balance the sodium effect. 4700milligrams per day recommended by the American Heart Association.
    • Broccoli, Spinach, Kale, and Asparagus are rich in Vitamin B/ folic acid, lowers levels of homocysteine in the blood. It is good if you include it every day in your diet.
    • Oatmeal, Apple with skin, Lentils, and raisins are rich in fiber. It lowers blood pressure and bad cholestrol, and also reduces inflammation. Experts said that women should consume 25g and men should consume 38g of dietary fiber.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise helps to improve blood circulation throughout the body and strengthens the heart muscles just like it strengthens the muscles of other parts of the body. It pushes more blood with each beat, allows the heart to beat slower, and keeps blood pressure under control. It reduces the risk of diabetes and also improves mood and mental functioning thus improves heart health and overall health. Do exercises like:
    • Aerobic Exercise
    • Resistance Training
    • Swimming
    • Yoga
    • Cycling
  • Laugh more often: The American Heart Association cites research which shows that laughing every day can manage stress hormones, decrease inflammation in your arteries, and raise the level of good cholesterol. So for a healthy heart, consider watching funny movies, crack jokes with your friends, or do anything that will make you laugh.

Follow these simple tips to boost heart health. Seek expert advice from your healthcare provider before beginning activities like yoga, exercise, and also about your diet. Get early treatment for health problems. Remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle by following a proper diet, avoiding stress, and exercising regularly, and stay happy, motivated, and cheerful.

Celebrate American Heart Month in February – Take Control of Your Heart Health

Celebrate American Heart Month in FebruaryHeart disease is one of the leading causes of death in United States, especially among women. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. February is observed American Heart Month to raise awareness about the condition, how to improve heart health and reduce the risks of the condition.

As younger adults face an increased risk, the focus in 2018 is on helping younger adults “take control” by making the right lifestyle changes. In many communities across the U.S., death rates are actually increasing among adults age 35 to 64. Their rates of risk factors such as physical inactivity, tobacco use, and hypertension are also increasing. This month, everybody is encouraged to join the CDC Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and the Million Hearts Initiative of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Resources in informing younger adults that they are not immune to heart disease, but that they can reduce their risk-at any age-through lifestyle changes and by managing medical conditions.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and many groups across the country celebrate National Wear Red Day on the first Friday in February every year. This year, National Wear Red Day was observed on February 2. National Wear Red Day raises awareness about heart disease and educates Americans about the fact that while heart disease is the leading cause of death, it is largely preventable. If people choose a healthy lifestyle and manage their health conditions, heart disease can often be prevented. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices.

The risk factors of heart diseases are smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, family history of early coronary heart disease, and age (for women, 55 and older). To help people, especially young adults, take control of their heart health, the Million Hearts Initiative makes the following recommendations:

  • Find time to be active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
  • Make healthy eating a habit. You can try healthier versions of your favorite recipes by lowering sodium and trans fat, and adding more fruits and vegetables.
  • Quit tobacco-for good.
  • Check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly. As high blood pressure and high cholesterol are major risk factors for heart disease, you need to take steps to control your levels.
  • Stick to your medication routine to manage and control conditions that can put your heart at risk.

Calcium-rich Foods to maintain Heart and Bone Health

An ideal diet chart is one that includes foods necessary for the body to function well. The right mix of all the nutrients keeps overall health in good rhythm. Do you take enough calcium everyday? Including the right proportion of calcium in your diet chart offers a double benefit: enhanced heart and bone health. While dietary calcium is good for your health, experts warn that taking supplements in excess could damage heart health.

Calcium-rich Foods

According to Institute of Medicine (IOM), the daily adult requirements for calcium are:

  • For all adults aged 19 to 50 and men to age 70 – 1,000 milligrams (mg)
  • For women aged 51 to 70 and all adults 71 and older – 1,200 mg

Calcium is a vital building block for lifelong bone health in both men and women. Almost every cell in the body makes use of calcium in some way or the other, including the nervous system, muscles, and heart. The lack of this nutrient in your diet can make your bones brittle and contribute to anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties. Also, including enough magnesium and vitamins D and K in your diet actually helps calcium do its job. Here are some good sources of calcium:

  • Fish and dairy – reduced-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, and part-skim cheese
  • Calcium-fortified soy milk or other milk alternatives
  • Almonds, raw, roasted, or as almond butter
  • Sardines (in oil)
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes and beans
  • Fortified orange juice

Include dark green leafy salads with your meals and add extra servings of veggies. You can start your day with oats and snack on nuts and seeds. Whole grain wheat bread sandwiches with canned fish with bones, such as sardines and pink salmon is a great calcium-rich meal.

Make These Changes in Your Lifestyle for Better Heart Health

Heart HealthA healthy heart is the most important thing you should have in your life to lead a healthy and happy life. A healthy heart can make a positive difference in your life and make your journey interesting and exciting. By introducing some small changes in your lifestyle, you can aim to make your heart healthier. Consider these tips to work towards the goal.

  • Of course, keeping the pressure off is what you should focus on avoiding unwanted stressful situations to remain peaceful and at ease.
  • Bad cholesterol is not going to do any good for your heart. It mostly comes from saturated and Trans fats, so take effort to reduce its intake per daily diet. It is recommended that adults should get a cholesterol blood test at least every 5 years.
  • High blood sugar can damage the arteries and that would increase the risk for heart disease. So if you have risk factors for diabetes, get timely medical help, bring in changes in your diet or use appropriate medicines to keep it in check.
  • Enough physical activity is one of the most important changes you should bring in your life. Avoid sitting for a longer period and you have to find some breaks in between if your work nature demands it.
  • It is always good to stay active throughout the day. Having a 30 minutes exercise is always good but spending the other 23.5 hours idle can take away its benefits.
  • Including fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of your heart disease by even a third or more.
  • Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease. So set up a weight management plan if you feel that you are gaining weight. It includes a healthy, balanced diet low in fat and sugar, and enough fruit and vegetables along with regular physical activity.
  • According to a HealthLine report, research in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that if the entire US population reduced its salt intake to just a half teaspoon a day, we would significantly reduce the number of new cases of coronary heart disease.

Even if you don’t make these changes all of a sudden, incorporate these guidelines gradually in your life to enjoy good heart health.

New Study Analyzes Effects of Lifestyle Changes on Heart Health

Heart HealthIf you want to boost heart health and reduce cardiovascular risks, the American Heart Association recommends a lifestyle that features a healthy diet, exercise, not smoking, and having a healthy percentage of body fat. The reason for stressing these characteristics is their positive effect on critical biomarkers – a lifestyle that incorporates these characteristics lower cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting blood sugar levels.

A group of researchers conducted a study to get a detailed understanding of the effects of these healthy lifestyle characteristics on particular biomarkers and to estimate their prevalence among US adults. They analyzed data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. The understanding was that favorable biomarker measurements would translate into lower risk of developing chronic diseases. Here are the interesting findings of the study along with important recommendations to improve heart health:

  • All four healthy lifestyle habits were found only among very few US adults – just around 3%.
  • About 11% of the US adults had no healthy lifestyle characteristics.
  • About 71.5 % of the adults don’t smoke. The study recommends that those who do, get assistance to kick the habit.
  • Nearly half of the adults (46.5 %) were found to be physically active. The recommendation is that all adults try to get at least 30-60 minutes of activity each day.
  • Eating healthy is an important consideration for improved heart health and about 37.9 % of the adults had healthy dietary habits. The study recommends that those who don’t get an honest opinion about their status and make the necessary changes in their diet plan. Lowering the intake of processed foods and including more natural fruits and vegetables should be the first step.
  • Only a minority (9.6 %) of the adults have a normal percentage of the body fat. So it is important that people follow a healthy life style to reduce fat and bring it down to the normal level.

On determining the impact of each lifestyle characteristic on specific biomarkers, it was found that those with at least one or two healthy lifestyle characteristics had positive biomarkers levels. So it is quite obvious that those with three or four healthy lifestyle characteristics have more favorable biomarker levels. These findings should be an encouragement to people to switch to a healthy lifestyle to enhance wellbeing and increase longevity.