Your heart is the center of your cardiovascular system and is responsible for everything that gives your body life – including transportation of blood, oxygen, and nutrients around the body. However, many Americans develop unhealthy eating habits as well as sedentary lifestyle that lead to heart diseases. It has been estimated that one in every four deaths in America is caused by a heart disease. This makes heart disease, the leading cause of death among American men and women.
However, the good news is that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can make your heart healthier and reduce the risk of heart diseases. Show some TLC for your heart and follow the tips below to improve the overall health of your heart.
• Eat a healthy diet enriched with fruits and vegetables.
• Avoid eating fried food.
• Be physically active by exercising for at least 30 minutes a day – five days a week.
• Quit smoking and avoid second hand smoke.
• Limit your alcohol intake.
• Manage stress and take some time off each day for stress reduction activities such as walking, socializing with friends, yoga, meditating, and even reading a book.
• Get a good night sleep of approximately 7-9 hours each night.
• Maintain your BMI (body mass index), Between 20 – 25 which is considered an optimal weight.
Having regular checkups can also help you assess your overall health and make changes in your lifestyle and diet accordingly. Some vital areas of the heart that should be checked and regulated are:
Blood pressure – The American Heart Association recommends the average blood pressure to be around 120/80. Excess fat in your body can increase the work your heart has to perform to pump blood throughout your body. The harder it works, the more pressure is placed on the walls of your arteries increasing the risk of high blood pressure also known as hypertension which results in blood clots and strokes.
Cholesterol Levels – Cholesterol is the fat in our bodies and is found in two categories. The low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is considered as the bad cholesterol while the good cholesterol is known as the high-density lipoprotein (HDL). The LDL cholesterol is found in foods that are high in saturated fat. The LDL cholesterol when consumed in abundance can build up in the blood stream and solidify into hard plaque making it difficult for blood to circulate around the body increasing the chance of heart diseases.
Resting Heart Rate – A normal resting heart rate ranges from 60 – 100 beats per minute. Your heart rate can be checked simply by locating your pulse either on the side of your neck or on your wrist – and counting the number of times you feel your heart beat within 60 seconds. An unusually high or low heart rate can signify many complications. However, many factors can influence your heart rate including:
• Activity level
• Fitness level
• Body size
It is important to consult your doctor if your resting heart rate is consistently above 100 beats a minute (tachycardia) or below 60 beats a minute (bradycardia).
Weight – Approximately one-third of American population is obese. Being overweight can lead to several health issues including strokes, fertility, and even psychological problems. Experts say that a person’s ideal weight should be determined by their Body Mass Index which is analyzed by a person’s height and weight. An individual who has a BMI of 25 and above is considered to be overweight with increased chances of getting heart diseases.
No matter what your age is – it’s not too late to turn back the clock on your heart. Make smart lifestyle choices and watch your heart become healthy.
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas Edison