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Friday, June 21, 2024

The Heart of the Matter – Additional Resources

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The Heart of the Matter

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For more information, check out these additional tips on keeping your heart healthy:

Keeping your heart healthy

Despite the promise of integrated cardiovascular care, supplements or pharmaceutical medications alone shouldn’t take the place of a healthy lifestyle. The good news is that there’s plenty we can do to keep our heart healthy.

Eat well

Increasing your intake of vegetables and fruit is one way to start improving your heart health immediately. Eating four to 10 servings every day may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Vegetables and fruits abundant in vitamin C and beta carotene,  a form of vitamin A, which work as antioxidants can help slow down or prevent atherosclerosis by reducing the build-up of plaque from cholesterol in the arteries.

Tip: Foods rich in vitamin C include broccoli, red peppers, strawberries, oranges, kiwi, and cantaloupe. Beta carotene, which gives food a distinctive dark orange, red, or dark green colour, is found in high amounts in carrots, tomatoes, squash, pink grapefruit, sweet potatoes, and Swiss chard.

You need some good fat in your diet, because certain types supply calories and help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. However, consuming too many of the wrong kinds of fats, such as some saturated fats (from processed meats, for example) and all trans fats, may raise levels of unhealthy LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower those of healthy HDL (good) cholesterol. This can increase the risk of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.

Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat, which helps lower triglycerides, a blood fat linked to heart disease. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold-water fish such as mackerel, sardines, herring, rainbow trout, and salmon. Other sources include walnuts, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, as well as hempseed oil.

Limit salt intake.  About one-third of people are sensitive to the sodium component of salt, and eating too much of it can increase the amount of blood in the arteries, raising blood pressure and increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Tip: Salt is sneaky and can be lurking where you least expect it. Be sure to check the nutrition labels on any canned, boxed, or processed foods. You might be surprised at how much salt is hiding in your favourite canned soup.

Exercise regularly

Physical activity can drastically reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. It helps prevent or control risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. It also helps decrease stress levels

Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. These can be accumulated in short bouts lasting 10 minutes or more. Strengthening and flexibility activities are important to incorporate, while endurance exercises—continuous activities such as walking or cycling—are especially beneficial for the heart.

Tip: Examples of moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, swimming, and water aerobics. Vigorous effort is required for activities such as aerobics, fast swimming, hockey, jogging or running, hockey, and basketball.

Achieve or maintain a healthy weight

Being a healthy weight, through healthy eating and regular exercise, is one of the most important strategies when it comes to protecting your heart.

It can be hard to get to a weight that’s considered healthy, but health care practitioners can provide support. If you are overweight, losing as little as 10 pounds (4.5 kg) can reduce blood pressure. Slow weight loss of about one to two pounds (1 kg) a week suffices.

Stop smoking—or don’t start

Smoking cigarettes raises the risk of heart disease and stroke. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that raises blood pressure, makes the heart work harder, and can result in blood clots.

As soon as you become smoke-free, your risk of heart disease and stroke starts to go down. Within one year, the chance of dying from smoking-related heart disease is cut in half.

Keep stress levels in check

Being stressed often or not having good coping skills can raise the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pain, or irregular heartbeat, according to the American Heart Association. Stress management classes can help.

To read the whole article: The Heart of the Matter

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