Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the world’s leading killer, causing 1 in every 3 deaths. In the Philippines, cardiovascular diseases are also the number one cause of death, with an estimated 50,000 dying every year. The cause of heart attacks and strokes are usually the presence of a combination of risk factors, such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity and use of alcohol, hypertension, diabetes and high level of cholesterol. Keep reading on to learn how to take care of heart health.
How To Take Care Of Heart Health
1. Eat a heart-healthy diet
A heart-healthy diet consists of a combination of different foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Cut down on salty meats such as ham, bacon, tocino, sausage, hotdog, as well as salty food such as dried fish. Use calamansi juice and vinegar to season your food instead of high-sodium condiments such as soy sauce, fish sauce, bagoong, and ketchup. Avoid the consumption of processed, canned, and fast food. Replace sweetened snacks such as doughnuts, cookies, and the like with fresh fruit and vegetables and if thirsty, substitute sweetened beverage sodas and sweetened juices with water.
2. If overweight, lose weight
Overweight and obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 and above. Central obesity or adiposity on the other hand is a high waist circumference of more than 80 cm for females and more than 90 cm for males. A high waist circumference points to more intra-abdominal fat and is associated with a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Try to reduce 500 kilocalories in your daily diet, which will help bring about an average weight loss of approximately half to almost 1 kilogram a week.
3. Increase regular physical activity to at least 2.5 hours per week
Physical activity contributes to improved blood pressure, improved levels of cholesterol and other blood lipids, and weight control. Some physical activity is better than none. Inactive people can start with small amounts of physical activity (even as a part of their normal daily activities) and gradually increase duration, frequency and intensity. Adults are recommended to perform at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (e.g. brisk walking, climbing stairs, dancing, gardening or doing household chores which can result in mild increase of heart rate) spread throughout the week.
4. Eat Healthily
5. Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep puts you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease—regardless of age, weight, smoking, and exercise habits. Sleeping too little changes the way our body functions and can affect blood pressure. This also goes the other way—too much sleep can also negatively impact heart health. Make sure to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night, and you’ll be on track for supporting better heart health.
6. Stop smoking
Smoking—with all of its negative side effects—is detrimental to heart health and is the cause of many diseases. In the U.S. alone, smoking kills the equivalent of three crashed jumbo jets every day. By simply quitting smoking or avoiding it altogether, you’re saving your heart from almost inevitable complications.
7. Laugh out loud
Don’t just LOL in emails or Facebook posts. Laugh out loud in your daily life. Whether you like watching funny movies or cracking jokes with your friends, laughter may be good for your heart. According to the AHA, research suggests laughing can lower stress hormones, decrease inflammation in your arteries, and raise your levels of high-density lipoprotein (HLD), also known as “good cholesterol.”
8. Stretch it out
Yoga can help you improve your balance, flexibility, and strength. It can help you relax and relieve stress. As if that’s not enough, yoga also has potential to improve heart health. According to research published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, yoga demonstrates potential to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.