Valentine’s Day is the day that Cupid’s arrow pierces the hearts of lovers and draws them closer together. Cupid’s arrows aside, it’s important to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle to prevent cardiac disease and damage. We thought we’d take this day to remind ourselves of a few essential tips to Loving Your Heart!
Saturated fats are not good for the heart. Many prepared foods and animal products such as fatty red meats, butter, eggs and milk are groaning with them. Cut down on red meats and pump up on lean cuts of white meats such as turkey and chicken. Eat more fish such as sardines, salmon and tuna – they’re laden with omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to lower cholesterol. Up your intake of dietary fibre – enjoy fruits, beans, vegetables and wholegrain foods (you need about 25-35 grams of dietary fibre a day). Put sodium on your dietary radar – you need no more than 2 grams (preferably less) every day, but many processed meats, eggs and bread are loaded with it.
Just 30 minutes a day of exercise (preferably to breathlessness) will do. You can break it up – three bursts of ten minutes or two of 15 minutes will be fine. Short, brisk walks twice or three times daily are all it takes.
Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease, increasing the risk of death from coronary artery disease by 70% above that for non-smokers. Help is available if you’re really hooked, but as soon as you stop, your heart starts regenerating.
Simply by following our first three suggestions, you may find that your blood pressure will be in the healthy range (optimally, 120/80 mmHg). These lifestyle changes should also help your cholesterol level to fall to the healthy level of 200mg/DL or lower. Get used to having these levels measured regularly.
Stress produces cortisol, which in the long run can damage your heart. Try to do more of the things you find relaxing, whether that’s listening to music or taking a walk. Just as the chemicals released by stress harm, so the chemicals released by laughter heal: laughter is known to ease blood flow, for example. Stress can be lowered by having a good network of friends for socialising with, as well as by maintaining a good work-life balance.
If you want to chat about any aspect of your health do pop in to see a member of our team at either our Canary Wharf or Orpington clinic, book an appointment by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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