Have you been looking after your heart lately?

From the Irish Heart Foundation:

Approximately 10,000 people die each year from cardiovascular disease (CVD) – including coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke and other circulatory diseases. CVD is the most common cause of death in Ireland, accounting for 36% of all deaths.

Each year, approximately 10,000 Irish people have a stroke and around 2,000 die – more deaths than breast cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer combined. An estimated 30,000 people are living in the community with disabilities as a result of a stroke. This makes stroke the third biggest cause of death in Ireland and the biggest cause of acquired disability.

We are living in uncertain times. Uncertainty can lead to anxiety and stress, placing you at greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

Follow these 6 Steps to a Healthier Heart and a longer, more active life.

1. Exercise Regularly

From Get Ireland Active

Aim for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity on five days a week, or 150 minutes a week. Focus on aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening and balance.

Every older person should be active. Some physical activity is better than none, more is better than some, and if you take part in any amount of physical activity you gain some health benefits.

We would also suggest incorporating stretching exercises into your activity, to improve your range of movement.

If you have mobility issues, start with simple activities such as: short walks, using the stairs, basic stretches. Do as much as your body allows, and build up slowly.

Just don’t tell this 73 year old bodybuilder to take it slow – https://www.insideedition.com/news/4418/meet-a-73-year-old-female-bodybuilder.aspx

2. Eat A Healthy Diet

These are great tips from the Kelloggs website:

  •  Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
  •  Reduce the total amount of fat you eat. (The GDA of fat for men is 90g/day and 70g/day for women..)
  •  Reduce and replace some saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats to help improve the ratio of ‘good’ cholesterol to ‘bad’ cholesterol in your blood.
  •  Eat 2 portions of fish (1 portion is 140g) each week, one of which should be an oil-rich fish such as mackerel, herring, pilchards, sardines, trout or salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish help to prevent blood clots from forming.
  •  Reduce your salt intake to no more than 6g a day.
  •  If you drink alcohol, drink moderately. 3-4 units of alcohol a day may have a protective effect on the heart if you’re over forty years old.
  •  Oat bran is rich in soluble fibre called beta-glucan, which has been found to help reduce high cholesterol. Eating a breakfast high in oat bran is a great way to start the day and may help control your cholesterol level.

3. Manage your Weight

Excessive body weight causes a narrowing of blood vessels, making your heart work harder and increases the chance for vascular blockages to develop.

Maintaining healthy blood vessels through weight management will greatly improve long-term health. Combine a healthy diet with regular exercise and you will reduce the risk of developing circulatory problems.

4. De-Stress

De-stress with simple relaxation techniques. Some options are:

– Yoga

– Meditation

– Tai chi

– Practice simple mindful breathing exercises. Close your eyes and listen to your breathing as you inhale and slowly exhale.

Set time aside each day to do something you enjoy. Immerse yourself in the experience and shake off the stress. I always find a good book chases away anxiety and stress by awakening the imagination.

5. Know the Signs and get Regular Check Ups

Learn the early signs of heart disease. Here are some of the most common signs:

  • A pain or heavy feeling in the chest.
  • A mild discomfort in the chest that makes you feel generally unwell
  • The pain in the chest can spread to the back or stomach.
  • Some people say that the chest pain feels like a bad episode of indigestion
  • The patient can feel a bit light-headed or dizzy as well as having chest pain.

Get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked by your GP regularly.

6. Stop Smoking

From the moment you stop smoking, the risk of heart attack starts to reduce.

From The American Heart Association

Cigarette smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by itself. When it acts with other factors, it greatly increases risk. Smoking increases blood pressure, decreases exercise tolerance and increases the tendency for blood to clot. Smoking also increases the risk of recurrent coronary heart disease after bypass surgery.

Smoking decreases HDL (good) cholesterol. Cigarette smoking combined with a family history of heart disease also seems to greatly increase the risk.

We hope these tips will help you take better care of your heart, increase your quality of life, live a longer, fuller life.

Have you any other suggestions for a healthy heart?

Anything we missed?

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