Ischaemic heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. It is responsible for 16 percent of the world’s total deaths. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and stroke are the second and the third leading cause of death worldwide. It is very important to keep your heart healthy. They are together responsible for approximately 17 percent of the world’s total deaths. In this article, you will learn how to improve and protect your heart health.
Having a healthy heart is central to overall good health. Taking care of your heart can help lower your risk of death by approximately 33 percent. It can also help reduce the risk of the following diseases and health conditions:
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart muscle disease
- Heart attack
- Marfan syndrome
- Blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol levels
- Deep vein thrombosis
How to Improve and Protect Your Heart Health
There are many ways to keep your heart healthy. Simple lifestyle changes can make a difference. Here are some of the lifestyle changes that you should consider to improve your heart health:
1. Quit smoking
Quitting smoking and avoiding the use of smokeless tobacco is one of the best things that you can do for your heart, lungs, and overall health. All tobacco products (cigarettes and e-liquids) have chemicals that can damage your heart, blood vessels, and the inner lining of your lungs. If you are not a smoker, you should avoid secondhand tobacco smoke as it can also increase your risk of lung cancer and heart disease.
Smoking lowers oxygen intake in the lungs. Low oxygen intake makes the heart work harder. The brain and other essential parts of the body need a constant supply of oxygen. When you smoke, your heart has to work extra harder to supply these organs with enough oxygen despite the disparities.
There is nothing like being too late to quit smoking no matter how long you have been smoking. Your risk of lung cancer and heart disease starts decreasing as soon as one day after you quit smoking.
Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but all you need is to commit yourself. Here are some plans, tips, and tools to help you quit smoking.
2. Eat a healthy diet
You are what you eat. If your diet is rich in junk foods like pizzas, tacos, and hamburgers, you are putting your heart at risk of developing diseases associated with high cholesterol, salt, and sugar. Junk foods also increase the risk of obesity, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.
You can protect your heart from Ischaemic heart disease and other heart diseases by just adopting a healthy diet. A healthy diet is rich in micronutrients such as fiber, minerals, and vitamins and low in calories. The diet should emphasize taking whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, nuts, and non-tropical vegetable oils.
There are so many diet plans, and you might be wondering which one among them is the best for you. You should consult your doctor or a nutritionist and ask them to develop a custom heart-healthy diet plan for you. The Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) are the best heart-healthy food plans.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing heart diseases. Obesity kills more people than being underweight. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2016. Nearly 650 million of these people were obese.
Obesity can lead to structural and functional changes in the heart. Obese individuals require more blood to supply the body with oxygen and nutrients. Their body also requires the blood to move with high blood pressure, which can cause a heart attack.
Start by calculating your body mass index (BMI). If your BMI is higher than 25, you are overweight and at risk of developing high blood cholesterol complications. You are also at high risk of diseases if your weight circumference is above 101 cm (40 inches) if you are a man and 90 cm (35 inches) if you are a woman.
The best way to maintain a healthy weight is to watch your calorie intake, choose low-calorie diets, and get active. Losing weight isn’t easy and can’t happen overnight. Be patient and consistent. Remember, small weight loss is better than not taking any action. Here are the ten best ways to lose body fat.
4. Reduce stress
Stress and depression are not good for your heart. A few studies are showing how stress can affect the risk factors for heart disease. Stress can contribute to smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and overeating. All those are unhealthy ways to cope with stress. They won’t help solve the problem and will put your body at risk of chronic diseases.
Here are some of the ways that you can use to relieve stress:
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Take deep breaths
- Take a time out
- Spend time with friends
- Make time for hobbies
- Talk about your problem with someone you trust
- Stay organized
- Take a break
- Eat a healthy diet
Sleep is good for your heart health. You need to sleep for 8 hours per day. People who don’t get enough sleep are at a high risk of depression, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Too much sleep is also not good for your heart and overall health. Adults who sleep for more than nine hours per day are at a higher risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and death.
6. Lower high blood pressure
High blood pressure forces blood against artery walls. In the long term, high blood pressure affects the size and elasticity of artery walls. High blood pressure can also cause heart failure, stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, aortic aneurysms, peripheral arterial disease, and vascular dementia.
Some of the things that you can do to control blood pressure include:
- Taking prescribed medicines
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke
- Avoid foods high in salts
- Choose foods low in calories
- Choose foods that are high in fiber
7. Manage cholesterol
One in every six Americans has high cholesterol levels. There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein. High-density lipoprotein is the good cholesterol, while low-density lipoprotein is the bad cholesterol. High levels of low-density cholesterol result in plaque build-up in the walls of the arteries. Over time, the buildup causes the arteries to harden and become narrower leading to heart diseases. The narrowing of the arteries restricts blood flow which can contribute to stroke and stroke.
Dieting and exercise can help keep your blood cholesterol in check. If the two are not enough, your doctor can outline a custom plan which might include some medicines. Remember, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels also don’t show symptoms in the early stages, but a simple blood test can reveal your blood cholesterol levels. Regular screening can help catch the problem early when it is easy to treat.
8. Control diabetes
Diabetes is a serious health problem that is affecting more than eight percent of the American population. According to the World Health Organization, more than 65 percent of all diabetes patients die from stroke and heart attack.
If you don’t have diabetes, you should adopt a healthy lifestyle. Managing high blood pressure and cholesterol levels can prevent diabetes and slow its progress in people who are diabetic. If you already have diabetes, managing it can improve your heart health. Dieting and exercise can help, but you should work with your doctor to come up with a treatment plan. 11 early symptoms of diabetes.
9. Be physically active
Being too much of a couch potato can increase your risk of heart disease. According to a Harvard study, watching TV for two hours every day can increase your risk of heart disease by up to 15 percent. The more time you spend watching TV, the higher your risk of developing heart disease gets.
According to the American Heart Association, being active for 30 minutes every day can improve your heart and overall health.
Getting active can also speed up weight loss which can help lower your risk of obesity. Reducing your risk of obesity can help reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 30 percent. Remember, you don’t have to get to the gym to lose weight and improve your heart health. Simple lifestyle changes like using stairs instead of the lift, swimming, cycling, walking, and dancing, can do miracles.
10. Rethink your Drink
Sugary drinks are high in calories and can increase your risk of high blood sugar and diabetes. Substituting sugary drinks with water can help lower your calorie intake and improve your overall health. Aim at drinking more than six glasses of water per day. Limiting your alcohol intake to two glasses of wine for men and one glass for women can improve your liver health and protect your heart.