Health  

Five top tips to avoid a heartbreak

As you go about your day today, it’s going to be in your faces. The bouquet of red flowers, the heart-shaped chocolates, the nicely wrapped up gifts, the heart-shaped cakes, the teddy bears with the big red heart! Today is Valentine’s Day! February is usually popular for Valentine’s Day, but most people don’t know that it also National Heart Month. Its main aim is to raise awareness about heart disease, to educate people about the fact that heart disease is a leading cause of death, and also reinforce that it is largely preventable.

Below are five steps you should take to ensure that you have a healthy heart, and would not suffer heartbreak, literally.

Quit Smoking: Quitting Smoking is the single most important thing you can do for your health. This act alone would solve most of your health issues and lower your chances of premature death. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable diseases related to heart disease. It is responsible first 30% – 45% of deaths due to heart disease.

Eat the Right Foods: Ever heard the saying “Let Food Be Thy Medicine”, in order to prevent heart disease, people need to start eating better for the heart. Avoid high fat, sugar-laden, high carbohydrates foods. Instead include vegetables, foods such as berries, strawberries which have been shown to increase the elasticity of arteries which aids in blood flow to the heart. Beans and legumes are high fibre, high protein, antioxidant foods that should be included in a heart-healthy diet. Foods like salmon, avocados, cod liver oil are high in Omega 3 fatty acids which have been proven to support normal functioning of the heart.

Lose weight: A healthy body weight with a Normal BMI of 19-26 is one of the best ways to prevent heart disease. If you are overweight or obese, even a 10% weight loss would improve heart health. Please do not trivialize obesity and say “I’m just chubby.” Obesity is deadly and it significantly increases your risk of getting heart disease by up to 85%. It also increases your risk of developing other conditions such as hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes. Being obese or overweight triggers inflammatory processes that harm the cardiovascular system, leading to functional and structural damage.

Stay Active: Most people think that exercise is only for those that are trying to lose weight. This is largely false! Regular exercise is always necessary regardless if a person is slim or overweight. Regular exercise reduces inflammation in the cardiovascular system and allows improved blood flow and prevents clot formation which may damage the heart.

Manage Risk Factors such as High Blood Pressure, High Blood Sugar, and High Cholesterol: Knowing your numbers for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol are important. Uncontrolled hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease. Hypercholesterolemia causes hardening and thickening of the arteries which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Diabetes would eventually damage blood vessels and lead to heart disease. It is imperative to visit your doctor regularly to ensure that these numbers are within the normal range.

In the spirit of Valentine, I would throw in one last tip for heart health. Eat CHOCOLATE! Go ahead and unwrap your box of dark chocolates. Flavonoids in cocoa have been shown to help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. Chocolates don’t just taste good, it also promotes heart health…as long as you stick to 1 to 2 ounces.

As we unwrap gifts from our spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, and other loved ones, it is important to remember that the best gift you can give yourself this Valentine’s Day is to make sure that you take these steps to have a healthy heart.

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