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Take care of your heart ...

Tips for a healthy heart

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Emotional Heart

The word “Heart” is always linked with emotions, feelings or moods, though all of these arise from our brain (mind/thought).

Everyone tend to “pour out their heart” or “steal someone’s heart” or show their “heartfelt gratitude” to someone at sometime or the other. We console someone to not “lose one’s heart” or become “sick at heart”. We may sometimes “break someone’s heart " and get peace while “crying our heart out. We wish for something “heart of heart" and don’t like “hard-hearted” people. We tell our kids to “by-heart” their lessons and put their “heart and soul” in their efforts. We try to look into the “heart of a problem.” We often face situations where we “have one’s heart in one’s mouth.” So many are these hearty phrases that no other organ of our body is entitled with such a non-medical connotation.

This should justify why the “heart” is so important and what efforts are to be taken to keep the heart healthy.

Physiological Heart

The “heart” is a muscular organ that forms the circulatory system by continuously pumping oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body to sustain life. You make a fist with you palm, squeeze and release. Note what effort it takes for you to do this once, but our heart expands and contracts like this 100,000 times per day, pumping five or six quarts of blood.

Of course, the heart muscle also requires oxygen and nutrients to do its work. It is amazing that the heart does not use the blood that it pumps through it as the source of oxygen and nutrients and just like any other muscle of our body; the heart gets its blood supply through the coronary arteries. So, if the coronary arteries fail to supply the required blood due to some reason and if the flow cannot be restored quickly, then that section of the heart muscle is damaged due to lack of oxygen and starts to die; this is called as myocardial infarction or heart attack.

Cardiovascular diseases comprise of congestive heart failure, valvular heart disease, rheumatic heart disease etc. to name a few, but the coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease. According to statistics, about 12.6 million Americans suffer from coronary heart disease, which often results in a heart attack. About 1.1 million Americans suffer a heart attack each year and about 515,000 of these heart attacks are fatal.

Atherosclerosis is the main cause of the coronary heart disease, i.e., the fatty deposit or plaque formation inside the coronary arteries that breaks open and forms a blood clot, which then becomes firm, leading to progressive narrowing of the coronary arteries. The partial flow of blood through the coronary arteries is called as ischemia.

Risk factor modification

Risk factors do multiply each other’s effect. “Take to heart” the following modifiable risk factors for coronary heart disease.

• Cigarette smoking
• High blood pressure
• Diabetes, especially type 2
• High blood cholesterol
• Overweight/obesity
• Physical inactivity

Stop smoking--Free radicals in tobacco smoke bind with cholesterol to damage the blood vessels and heart muscle. Smoking causes blood vessels to the heart to clump and become sticky.

All the other risk factors, especially overweight/obesity has to be tackled only with lifestyle modifications, namely diet and exercise, which automatically keeps our life stress-free also.

Heart Healthy Diet

Think twice before eating “to one’s heart content.” Instead eat 5 small meals a day to keep the metabolism ticking. Watch the portion size. Do not skip breakfast, or else you lose the kick-start mechanism of the day as well you end-up taking a heavy lunch or dinner.
Watch your BMI (Body Mass Index). BMI = (weight in Kg/height in meter square). A BMI above 25 is considered unhealthy.

Your daily calorie intake should just meet your requirement and not be in excess.
A heart-healthy diet should be low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol and sodium, but should include foods that promote heart health such as fruits and vegetables, soy, whole grains and fiber. For a more complete list, watch the video on Heart-Healthy Diet.

Heart Healthy Exercises

Exercise for the heart means exercise for the whole body. Heart-healthy exercises should result in an increased heart rate for a sustained period of time, say at least for 30 minutes a day.

Even while sleeping we spend as much as 55 calories per hour, but are we making efforts to spend enough calories while awake? So, it is time to “set our hearts on” a regular exercise regime and pursue it “wholeheartedly”. Expert advice is a must before you start on any type of exercise especially the gym sort of workouts. Anyway, one could always take up their activity of choice, but “half-hearted” attempts never succeed.

Aerobics, dancing, climbing stairs, brisk walking, jogging, skipping, swimming, pilates, or pursuing any game like tennis, cycling, skating etc., does the trick of burning anywhere from 300 to 600 calories per hour.

Treadmills or a stationary bike are quite suitable within the comforts of our home.

Yoga in addition to above helps in controlling negative emotions, regulating the endocrine activity, and helps in blood pressure control. It boosts the immune system and reduces chronic stress and thus helps in preventing heart attacks. The balance techniques used help prevent falls and injuries.

Besides a regular exercise regimen, we can always create opportunities for heart-healthy practices like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking some distance to reach the work place, taking 5-to 10-minute stretching breaks at work place, deep breathing now and then, enjoying a hide-and-seek game with kids etc.

So, let’s realize, “having a heart of gold” is not enough, but a heart of health is what really matters.

Watch the Video: How to eat a heart healthy food !

Watch the advise that you do not have to become too crazy about having all these food on a daily basis. Choosing a healthy food makes all the difference!

Your heart ...

Anyone can catch your eye,
but it takes someone special to catch your heart.

- Unknown

Disclaimer: The above content is provided for information and awareness purpose only. It is not prescriptive or suggestive or meant to replaces your qualified physician's advice or consultation.