Friday, March 16, 2012

Maintaining a Healthy Heart

In the US and UK Heart Disease is still the number one killer, accounting for approximately 25% of deaths each year.
Unfortunately, heart problems can be hereditary but the good news is that the number of deaths is reducing year on year, but there are a few things you can do to maintain a healthy heart and ensure you don’t become a horrible statistic.
First and foremost don’t use tobacco or smoke, and if you are able to avoid smokey environments. The chemicals which are inherent in tobacco products, over time, will significantly damage your heart, cause the blood vessels in your body to narrow (known as atherosclerosis) and can in turn lead to what is commonly known as a heart attack.
Couple with the narrowing of your blood vessels, the carbon monoxide in tobacco replaces some of the oxygen in your blood. This means the heart has to work harder to pump oxygen to the rest of your body leading to high blood pressure.
You should be aiming to do at least 30 – 60 minutes exercise every day. This doesn’t mean you have to run around as fast you can for that entire time, just do something which raises your heart rate above its normal level and get your blood pumping.
For those of us who are not best friends with exercise you don’t need to do all of this exercise at once. Breaking your exercise up into 10 minutes chunks will also provide benefits of helping to maintain a healthy heart.
You don’t need to join a gym to achieve the required amount either. Walking your dog, walking up and down the stairs or completing your housework at an increased rate all count toward the exercise required.
You need to make sure that in your diet you avoid foods which are high in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt. Of course these are ok in moderation but should be avoided in large quantities. Eating foods which are high in saturated and trans fats will increase the risks of coronary artery disease and will also lead to raised blood cholesterol levels.
The older we get the more likely the weight we put on will be fat rather than muscle. Excess weight will likely contribute to conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure which are best avoided at any age!
The key is maintaining a healthy diet and doing some regular exercise. Even small amounts of weight loss will provide a benefit to your heart!