………and Greatly Reduce Your Chances of a Heart Attack.
Apart from all its complexity, I have always felt the human heart is such an amazing device and with a little bit of help from you, you can make yours even better.
Hearts do a magnificent job of supporting life and your heart is also responsible for just about everything inside your body that gives you the wonderful gift of life.
And yet, some of us treat our hearts like a rental car.
Here are some tips to remedy that…….ahead you will find 20 easy ways to greatly improve your heart health and your quality of life.
6 Interesting Heart Health Facts You Should Know About
1. The heart sits in the center of the chest, and points slightly to the left
2. It is about the size of a large fist
3. Men’s hearts weigh about 285 to 340 grams (10 to 12 ounces); women’s hearts weigh about 225 to 285 grams (8 to 10 ounces)
4. According to WebMD this fist-sized powerhouse beats (expands and contracts) 100,000 times per day, pumping 4. to 5.6 litres (five or six quarts) of blood per minute, or about 7,570 litres (2,000 gallons) per day.
5. In a single lifetime the heart will beat approximately 3 billion times, this equates to about 100,000 times per day
6. Adult hearts beat 60 to 80 times each minute, while newborn baby’s hearts beat faster at a rate of about 70 to 190 beats per minute.
Functions of the Heart
The heart pumps blood throughout the whole body by way of the circulatory system, to supply oxygen and essential nutrients to the body’s tissues, and to remove wastes that may do it harm.
Dr. Lawrence Phillips, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York reports that tissues and organs in the body require a constant flow of nutrition which the heart supplies, and if they do not receive it, they will die.
The Importance of Seriously Considering the State of Your Heart Health
Considering your heart health and taking care of your heart is extremely important since it is the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States and the rest of the world.
Some Facts About Heart Disease & Active Ageing
Statistics and Prevention – the American Heart Association’s 2016 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update reports:
1. 1 in 3 deaths in the U.S. in 2013 were the result of heart disease, stroke and other related cardiovascular diseases
2. Worldwide, heart disease was the #1 killer and stroke the #2 killer
3. Each year approximately, 735,000 Americans have a heart attack, of those 525,000 are first time heart attacks and 210,000 are second occurrences.
American Heart Association – Life’s Simple 7
The AHA’s 2016 update currently tracks key risk factors and lifestyle choices and behaviors that are known to increase risks and contribute to heart disease; these are known as AHA Life’s Simple 7:
1. Smoking of cigarettes – about 19% of men and 15% of men still smoked in 2014, though rates of smokers have dropped markedly since 1998
2. Healthy diet – Numbers of people following a healthy diet increased about 0.7 to 1.5% in adults since 2003, in reality these numbers are pretty dismal
3. Body weight – 160 million US adults and kids were overweight or obese between 2009 and 2012, of these 69% were adults and 32% were kids; 13 million or 17% had some level of obesity
4. Cholesterol status – Approximately 43% of US adults had a total cholesterol of at least 200 mg/dL or higher between 2009 and 2012
5. Regular Exercise – 1 in 3 Americans reported no physical activity during 2014 (that’s not good)
6. Blood pressure status – approximately 80 million, or 33% of American adults had high blood pressure between 2009 and 2012. (Figures from the Heart Foundation of Australia for 2011/12 are 4.6 million Aussies (32%) aged 18 years and over with high blood pressure so you can see the problem is pretty much the same from country to country.)
7. Blood sugar – Type 2 diabetes is at epidemic levels, with 9% of Americans already diagnosed and 35% having pre-diabetes.
My comment: Unfortunately, the figures for this typically lifestyle disease are much the same worldwide. A sure sign we seriously need to be looking at altering our lifestyle habits.
Early Action Is Vitally Important For Heart Attack Victims
Knowing heart attack warning signs and all possible symptoms can save your life as the chances for survival increase greatly when emergency treatment is administered quickly.
A 2005 study found that while 92% of those surveyed recognized chest pain as one of the signs of a heart attack, only 27% actually knew all the other major symptoms, and when to call for emergency medical care.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention report that 47% of sudden cardiac arrest deaths happen outside of a hospital; this may mean that more than half of Americans do not act on early warning signs.
Get to Know the 6 Major Early Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
1. Pain or discomfort in the chest
2. Shortness of breath
3. Pain or discomfort in the upper body, including the neck, jaw, arms and upper stomach
5. Feeling lightheaded
6. Cold sweats
The terrible fact is about every 34 seconds, someone in the US has a heart attack – learn about these 4 warning signs before a heart attack. In young Hamish’s story below from the Australian Heart Foundation it proves heart trouble really can strike at any time.
When it does, your survival depends on whether doctors understand your condition and know how to fix it.
20 Ways to Improve Your Heart Health
There are many things you can do every day to support the health of your heart. Why not try a few of these each day?
1. Stop smoking – NOW — smoking is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. If you use other tobacco products or smoke, the American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Blood Institute all encourage you to stop. It will make a huge difference to your heart as well as your overall health.
2. Focus on your belly — research from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has connected excess belly fat to an unhealthy blood lipid level and higher blood pressure.
If you are carrying extra fat around your belly, it is time to trim down.
Exercising and eating fewer and better quality calories can make a huge difference.
3. Reduce your stress levels — put your hands to work to reduce stress and unwind your mind. For women, engaging in activities like crocheting, knitting, and sewing can help you relieve stress as well as doing your heart some good.
Other relaxing hobbies including doing jigsaw puzzles, cooking, gardening or woodworking are all great for stress relief.
4. Let music move you — whether you prefer a two-step tune or a rumba beat, dancing makes your heart work better. Like other forms of exercise, it increases your heart rate and gets your legs going. It also burns up to around 200 calories per hour, according to the Mayo Clinic.
5. Go fishing — eating a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids is also good for helping get rid of heart disease. Many types of oily fish, such as herring, sardines, tuna, salmon, and halibut are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Try to eat these oily fish two to three times a week as suggested by the American Heart Association. If you’re worried about mercury in fish, you may be excited to learn that the heart benefits of fish tend to outweigh its risks.
6. Laugh out loud — don’t just have a little giggle to yourself reading Facebook posts or other social media. Learn to enjoy a really good belly laugh on a regular basis…..really rip your cheeks apart.
Maybe you enjoy cracking jokes with your mates, watching a good comedy on TV or cracking a few funnies your family and loved ones; laughter will certainly decrease the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, decreasing inflammation in your coronary arteries and can increase your levels of HDL (high-density lipoproteins, also known as “good cholesterol.”
7. Stretch your muscles — Yoga can help you improve your flexibility, strength, and balance. It can help you relieve stress and relax. Moreover, Yoga has the ability to improve your heart health.
According to scientific research published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Yoga has the potential to reduce your risk of heart disease.
8. Drink more alcohol — I knew you’d like this one but don’t get too excited……enjoy moderate consumption of an alcoholic beverage like red wine; it is known to help you increase your high-density lipoprotein levels.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you can drink red wine in particular as it offers benefits that may help your heart.
It doesn’t mean you should have alcohol at every meal. It just means you can help prevent artery damage and blood clot formation with moderate consumption of a good red.
9. Skip the salt — if the entire US population reduced its mean salt intake to just a half teaspoon per day, it would significantly decrease the number of people who develop heart artery disease each year.
Scientists have confirmed this at the New England Journal of Medicine.
The researchers suggest salt is one of the leading causes of increased health care costs in the US. Processed foods tend to be particularly high in salt. Therefore, you need to think twice before eating a lot of fast foods and processed meats.
10. Exercise regularly — it doesn’t matter how much you weigh, research is now showing sitting for long periods of time will decrease your lifespan.
People who live desk jockey lifestyles or are couch potatoes suffer from unhealthy effects on blood sugar and blood fats.
If you work at a desk, take regular breaks and move around as much as possible. Take a walk on your lunch breaks and eat your launch while walking.
11. Keep track of your numbers — keeping a diary that tracks your blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood sugar can help you maintain a healthy heart.
Learn the optimal levels for your age group and sex. Take steps to maintain those levels; your doctor can tell you how.
Remember to schedule regular checkups with your physician to stay on top of the numbers, and always have a yearly checkup.
12. Eat chocolate — 85% dark chocolate. It is not only tasty but it contains heart-healthy flavonoids. These molecules help decrease your risk of heart disease, according to researchers at the Journal Nutrients. Eating low amounts of dark chocolate, NOT milk chocolate, can actually be good for you.
The next time you want to eat some sweets, eat a small square of dark chocolate. You don’t have to feel guilty about that.
13. Do more housework — vacuuming or mopping the floors may not be as intense as a Zumba class or a treadmill workout but it can help improve your heart health. They will burn calories while giving your heart a cardio workout. Put on your favorite music and increase your weekly chores around the house.
14. Eat some raw nuts—if you eat walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds and macadamias you will get a lot of fiber, protein and good fats. Including a small handful in your diet can help decrease your risk of heart disease.
The American Heart Association says to remember the serving size is small……in other words a snack – great to keep in your drawer at work. While nuts are full of heart-healthy stuff, they also have a lot of calories in them.
15. Play like a child — fitness doesn’t have to be boring. Let your inner child take the lead by enjoying an evening of laser tag, bowling, tennis or roller-skating. You can have fun while burning calories.
16. Try some pet therapy — pets offer more than unconditional love and are great company. They also provide many health benefits.
Studies reported by the NIH (National Institute of Health) suggest that dog owners have improved lung function and heart health because dog owners take their pets for nice long walks.
Because of this, it will more than likely help decrease your chances of having heart problems.
17. Reduce your intake of unhealthy fats — slicing your saturated fat to less than 7% of your daily calories can decrease your risk of heart disease, according to the USDA. If you don’t read nutrition labels, consider starting today.
Take stock of what you are eating and stay away from foods high in fat, particularly saturated fats. Don’t forget, there are good and bad fats – get to know the difference.
18. Take the scenic route home — forget the shortest, but traffic congested route home and take the scenic route so you can enjoy your ride. Eliminating stress while driving can help you reduce your blood pressure and stress levels. That is something your heart will appreciate.
19. Make time for a good breakfast — the first meal of the day is the most important. Eating a nutritious high fiber and high protein breakfast sets your body up for the day ahead and helps you to maintain a healthy weight and optimal levels of energy throughout the day.
To build a heart-healthy meal, reach for fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy such as cheese, Greek yogurt (be careful of the low fat variety as it is high in sugar), or low-fat milk, lean protein sources, such as a small serving of nuts or peanut butter, and fibre found in whole grains like oatmeal, whole grain cereals or whole-wheat toast.
20. Take the stairs — exercise is crucial for good heart health so why not sneak it in every chance you get. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further away from the shops so you have to walk further than normal. Walk over to a colleague’s desk to talk instead of just emailing them.
Take the kids to the park and run around with them. They will love you for it.
Play a sport every weekend instead of just sitting on the couch watching TV or playing video games. Every little bit of incidental exercise adds up to better heart health.
You can see by the figures I have used above just how important it is to have a healthy heart. I urge you to join the Active Ageing Movement and do more exercise and hopefully these tips will help you learn how to have a healthy heart for the rest of your life.
Many of us have been touched by the loss or lived with the crippling results caused by a heart attack to a loved one so please like and share…….you never know who it may help.
Best wishes and good health – John – your Active Ageing Activist and Coach.
P.S. Don’t forget to help a friend……..like and share.