September was Irish Heart Month and we thought we were making a quick guide to heart health to keep the topic as current as possible. Heart health should be considered by all of us, especially if we are 40 years or older. For me, the scary thing about heart health is that the symptoms sometimes go unnoticed. Just recently a father died of a heart attack at my children's school in his forties. And while genetic factors are likely to play a role, the risk becomes even greater when heredity is combined with unhealthy lifestyle habits like cigarette smoking or an unhealthy diet.
The facts: Heart disease (or cardiovascular disease) remains the leading cause of death in Ireland. It is currently the cause of a third of all deaths in Ireland including coronary artery disease, stroke and other circulatory diseases. Worse still, heart failure in Ireland will increase dramatically in the future. It is therefore crucial that we all take our own steps to prevent ourselves from becoming just another statistic.
Take control of your heart health
We can avoid heart health problems in the future by adopting a healthy lifestyle today. Here are eight heart disease prevention tips to get you started.
1. Exercise for about 30 minutes x 5 days a week: Regular daily exercise can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease. For even more health benefits, consider extending it to one hour of aerobic activity five days a week, such as: B. run one hour from Monday to Friday. Alternatively, you can increase the intensity and do this in less time, e.g. B. three one-hour sessions of intense activity per week (e.g. jogging, cycling or an intense dance class). Also, try to do strength exercises two or more days a week. If you can't follow these guidelines, don't give up: any exercise, no matter how small, will still help. Activities like gardening, housekeeping, climbing stairs, and walking the dog count towards your total.
2. Don't smoke or give up: Smoking or using tobacco of any kind is one of the major risk factors for developing heart disease. The good news, however, is that your risk of coronary artery disease drops significantly one year after you quit smoking, and nears that of a non-smoker in about 15 years. No matter how long or how much you've smoked, you will reap rewards once you quit. Download our free smoking cessation guide here.
3. Eat a healthy heart: A diet high in vegetables and whole grains can protect your heart. The goal is to eat lentils, beans, chickpeas, low-fat dairy products, lean meat, and fish as part of a healthy diet. Avoid too much salt and sugar in your diet. Try to limit or avoid saturated fat (i.e. too much red meat and cheese) and trans fats (found in many fried and baked processed foods). Healthy fats – like avocado, nuts, fish, olives, and olive oil – can actually help your heart by lowering bad cholesterol. Eating two or more servings of certain fish, like salmon and tuna, per week can reduce your risk of heart disease.
4. Watch your alcohol consumption: Try to reduce alcohol to the recommended amounts (which may be well below what you are drinking). For women, this means only one drink a day and up to two drinks a day for men. A beverage is defined as 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of beer, 5 ounces of wine (148 ml), or 1.5 fluid ounces (44 ml) of spirits. At this moderate level, alcohol can have a protective effect on your heart, but too much alcohol can pose a health risk. Also remember that alcohol is carcinogenic. So if you want to prevent cancer, make sure to reduce it.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity – especially if you are overweight in the middle – increases the risk of heart disease. Obesity can lead to conditions that increase your risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Metabolic syndrome – a combination of fat around the abdomen, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high triglycerides – also increases your risk of heart disease. Check if you are at risk by simply measuring your waist (place the tape an inch above your belly button or the narrowest part of your center). Men are generally considered overweight if their waist circumference is greater than 37 inches, while women's waists should not be larger than 31.5 inches. Anything more than 40 inches for a man and 34 inches for women is considered “high risk” and requires immediate action. If you haven't already done so, book an assessment with us.
6. Get enough quality sleep: Did you know that leachate deprivation can seriously damage your health? People are surprised to learn that those of us who don't get enough sleep are actually at higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes, and depression. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Make sleep a priority in your life. Establish a sleep schedule and stick to it by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
7. Manage stress: Some people deal with stress in unhealthy ways – such as overeating, drinking, or smoking. Finding alternative ways to deal with stress – like physical activity, relaxation exercises, or meditation – can help improve your health and your risk of heart disease.
8. Get regular health checkups: High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your heart and blood vessels. Regular reviews will alert you to whether or not you need to take action. For some, drugs are necessary and critical; while others heed the warning and manage to stay away from medication by immediately changing their lifestyle to incorporate more exercise and a healthier diet.
9. Climbing! FASCINATING RESEARCH: Climbing stairs can help lower blood pressure. This comes from a new study published during menopause that found that climbing stairs can lower blood pressure. The researchers recruited postmenopausal women for the study. The women climbed 192 steps two to five times a day, four days a week. In just 12 weeks, these women showed a decrease in their systolic blood pressure of 7 mm Hg and a decrease in their diastolic blood pressure of about 3 mm Hg. The stair climbers not only lowered their blood pressure, but also showed a decrease in arterial stiffness (a heart risk factor) and a Increase in leg strength. Better heart health!