The heart is the most crucial muscle and one of the vital organs of our body. Its sole purpose is to supply oxygen and nutrients to every nook and corner of the body. It receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it to the rest of the body. The blood, after delivering the oxygen, routes back to the heart from where it is again sent back to the lungs for oxygenation, and the cycle continues. The heart and the vessels work around the clock to keep us alive and healthy, and do not cease to function even for a split second!
The disease process or pathology causing heart disease is termed as atherosclerosis. It refers to the deposits along the walls of arteries, leading to plaque formation and narrowing of vessels. This blocks blood supply, oxygen, and nutrients, leading death of the tissue supplied by that blood vessel, i.e., ischemia. When one of the main arteries supplying the heart are blocked, it can lead to ischemic heart disease.
There are several factors which make us susceptible to heart disease. Some of them, including age, gender, and genetics, cannot be changed and are termed as non-modifiable risk factors. Increasing age, male gender and positive family history of heart disease puts you at a higher risk, and unfortunately, they are not under our control. However, there are various factors, which are under our direct control, and if we keep them in check, we can protect ourselves from heart disease. These are called modifiable risk factors.
We all have some. It is made in our body as well as acquired from food. It is needed for the maintenance of good health, to make vitamin D, hormones including oestrogen in women and testosterone in men, and to help with digestion. The problem arises when there is too much cholesterol, especially with increasing age. There are two types of cholesterol that you might be familiar with: High-density lipoprotein or HDL, also known as good cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein or LDL, also known as bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol can contribute to artery-clogging plaque and good cholesterol helps to remove plaque. Therefore, having too much of the bad, or not enough of the good, can lead to heart disease.
2. Stay Active
Thanks to technology and smartphones, our generation spends hours just sitting in front of computers (obviously, for work!). Lack of mobility contributes to heart disease. The idea is to keep the blood pumping through the body and strengthen the heart – remember, it is a muscle!
Studies show that cardiovascular training for a minimum of 20 minutes per day can lead to a healthy heart by reducing weight, mobilising fat stores, and lowering blood pressure. Some examples of activities that improve heart health include running, jogging, resistance training, swimming, hiking, etc.
3. Avoid Smoking and Alcohol
Quitting, or at least minimizing these two can significantly protect you from heart disease, stroke, and many other illnesses.
4. Controlling Blood Pressure
The blood pressure is the force exerted by blood onto the walls of arteries, and hence a high blood pressure means more turbulence in blood vessels, which leads to atherosclerosis. Blood pressure is often rightfully labelled as a “silent killer” as there are no apparent symptoms and some people are not even aware of having high blood pressure until they arrive in the emergency department with another grave concern. High blood pressure can affect vessels all over your body causing damage to the eyes, stroke, or kidney failure in addition to heart disease. Therefore, keeping it in check is one of the most important keys to heart health. Visiting your doctor on a regular basis is the key to ensuring that your blood pressure is in check.
5. Diabetes and Obesity
High blood pressure often accompanies diabetes or obesity. Uncontrolled diabetes and/or too much weight contribute to poor outcomes in heart health, and hence keeping diabetes in control and losing extra weight will promote heart health. Always follow the advice of physician regarding diet, exercise and medicine, as they not only directly protect your heart but also help to minimize other risk factors as listed above. Remember, staying active will directly help with controlling obesity as well.
Yes, it’s true. Too much emotional stress can put you at risk for heart disease. Do not worry about the things that may not be in your control. If you are the type of person that tends to live a stressful lifestyle, or one that cannot easily handle stress, then engaging in activities that help to ease stress are absolutely essential. Some of these include; yoga, meditation, deep breathing, message therapy, acupuncture, and even seeing a psychologist could be beneficial! Keep stress low, activities high, diet healthy, and you’re on your way to a healthier and happier heart.
Below are just some of the popular supplements used for their role in heart health:
If you practice any of our heart-health tips, or if you’re considering whether or not to add heart-healthy supplements into your regime, tell us about it on Instagram and Facebook. Be sure to tag @reflexsupplements and use the hashtag #ReflexNation.
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