Your heart is at the centre of your cardiovascular system. It is responsible for a number of jobs that keep your whole body working, from the circulation of nutrients and oxygen to the maintenance of your immune system. It even removes carbon dioxide and other waste from the body’s tissues—another very valuable function. Maintaining a healthy heart enables our organs to thrive, giving us life and vitality.
Reading about the signs
There are a number of warning signs that indicate you may be suffering from a common heart condition—many of these can go undetected or ignored:
Swelling of the feet
A sudden persistent cough
Extreme pain when walking
Feeling dizzy or light-headed
Getting easily exhausted even though you are fit
Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
If you experience these symptoms persistently, it is always best to get them checked; visit your doctor for advice.
How can you maintain a healthy heart?
Leading an overall healthy lifestyle will make a huge difference to your heart’s health; therefore, making the right lifestyle choices is essential.
Quitting smoking is one of the single best things you can do for your heart with smoking being among the leading causes of coronary heart disease. The NHS reports that a year after quitting smoking, your risk of heart attack reduces by 50 percent. If you wish to give up smoking for good, try the NHS Smokefree service or contact your doctor for useful advice.
Watch your weight
Being overweight dramatically increases your risk of heart disease. Eating a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients will provide your body with what it needs to thrive. Consume a healthy proportion of fruits, vegetables, protein, carbohydrates and dairy products. Endeavour to eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Consuming over the recommended 14 units of alcohol per week can affect your waistline, so lowering your consumption may help to further curb calorie intake. Reducing fat and sugar levels in your food will also help to maintain a healthy weight.
Including regular exercise into your routine is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mood. More importantly, getting—and staying—active can lower your chances of developing heart disease and other life-threatening conditions including diabetes. The government recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. This can be achieved through 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity spread over five days and can involve cycling to work or going for a jog in the morning.
Eat more fibre
You should aim to consume around 30 grams of fibre a day. This can be obtained from a variety of sources including bran, oats, wholemeal bread, wholegrain cereals and whole fruits and vegetables. Eating plenty of fibre can help to prevent heart disease by decreasing levels of cholesterol in the blood. High levels of cholesterol can cause a fatty buildup in the artery walls, leading to potentially severe health issues later on in life.
Reduce salt intake
Excessive salt in your diet can contribute to high blood pressure, which will increase your chances of stroke or coronary heart disease. Taking small steps to reduce your salt intake can make a world of difference. Start by removing salt from the dinner table and gradually add less to your cooking. Look out for high levels of salt lurking in ready meals and store-bought sauces. A food is high in salt if it contains more than 1.5 grams in a 100-gram serving; always check food labels carefully.
Get Into The Blood Flow