Written by: Hannah Highdale, Program Manager at IDS Center
The heart is the most important muscle in our body. Without it, we wouldn’t be alive. It is vital to protect our heart from diseases so that we can fully live a healthy and happy life. As we age, our heart changes due to buildup of fatty deposits in the walls of arteries. This change can put you at risk for a heart attack, stroke, develop coronary heart disease and heart failure.
Here are a few tips to help prevent this change from happening:
Eat a heart healthy diet
Having a heart healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean poultry and fish can lower your intake of saturated fats, trans fats and sodium. Too much of those can increase your “bad” cholesterol and increase risk of heart disease. Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods means that you are getting a mixture of vitamins, minerals, protein and other nutrients that your body needs to support your heart health.
Make a goal of exercising 30 minutes, 5 days a week
Getting as little as 10 minutes of movement at a time can still contribute to health gains to your physical body and heart health. Exercising 30 minutes, 5 days a week helps lower your blood pressure, lose weight or stay fit and can aid in the limit of plaque buildup on the artery walls.
Avoiding smoking is one of the best ways to protect your heart health. Smoking contributes to atherosclerosis which is narrowing and clogging of the arteries. This reduces blood supply and the amount of oxygen available throughout the body. Compared with nonsmokers, individuals who smoke are more likely to suffer from a heart attack or heart disease. The risk of having or dying from a heart attack is significantly higher among people who smoke and already have heart disease.
Limit your alcohol intake to 1 drink a day
Alcohol can affect people in many ways. Current health issues, medications you are on, age, etc. can all play a part in how you handle alcohol, metabolize it and feel during consumption and the day afterwards. At the time of drinking, alcohol can cause a temporary increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, drinking above the guidelines can lead to continuous increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, weakened heart muscle and irregular heartbeat. Regardless of how it affects you, limit alcohol consumption to 1 drink per day.
Which of these tips are you already doing? Which can you improve on? Discuss ideas of how you can better your heart health with your doctor. Take charge of your heart health today to allow yourself to live your best and happiest life.
https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/keep-your-heart-healthy https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/heart-health-and-aging https://www.healthline.com/health/heart-disease/how-to-unclog-arteries https://health.clevelandclinic.org/4-facts-know-alcohol-affects-heart/