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How Can We Best Achieve Heart Health?

Our heart is one of the most important muscles in our body. It beats approximately 100, 000 times per day, pumping about 5 litres of blood throughout our body. As with any muscle, the more we exercise it, the stronger it becomes.

A strong heart pumps more blood with fewer beats and less effort. This means less strain is put onto our blood vessels, thereby reducing our risk of cardiovascular disease.

Two simple changes that we can all make to support heart health:

Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains has protective qualities and supports a healthy heart.

Aerobic exercise. Aerobic fitness is key to keeping our hearts healthy. It’s not the only type of exercise we should be doing. Building strength training into our regular exercise regime is also important, as the more muscle mass we build, the more calories we burn. This can help maintain both a heart-healthy weight and fitness level.

As our blood circulates through the body, it delivers the vital oxygen and nutrients we need to survive. When our circulatory system isn’t working well, the risk of heart disease increases. This is usually a gradual process, but certain factors play an active role in raising our risk.

Risk Factors include:

Uncontrolled Diabetes

  • When diabetes is uncontrolled, we have higher levels of circulating blood sugar. Over time, this can damage our blood vessels and cause serious heart complications.

High Blood Pressure

  • Blood Pressure is the force at which blood pushes against the artery walls. It is measured as systolic and diastolic blood pressure and should be in the region of 120 / 8080mmHg. If too high, it can damage the artery walls by making them less elastic, decreasing blood and oxygen flow to the heart leading to heart disease. 

High Cholesterol

  • Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in our blood. It is a chemical building block found naturally within our cells and whilst a healthy amount is required, excess bad cholesterol can increase our risk of heart disease due to fatty deposits.

Obesity and being overweight

  • Obesity increases our risk of developing heart disease and indirectly raises the risk of type II diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. A healthy body mass index is between 18.5-24.99 kg/m2. Bear in mind that BMI is just one measure of weight. When used in conjunction with other measurements, such as waist circumference, it may prove more useful in understanding how your weight may be affecting your risk of heart disease.

Smoking

  • Smoking raises our risk of heart disease by damaging the lining of our arteries. Fatty deposits begin building up within them which can, over time, lead to heart attacks and strokes. Smoking also causes increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Alcohol

  • Excess alcohol can weaken the heart. This means that the heart isn’t able to pump blood around the body as efficiently as it should. Over time, this can result in heart failure and death.

What steps can we take to reduce our risk?

Increase physical activity

Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise as well as 2 strength based sessions per week.

Reduce time spent sitting down

For every hour increment of sitting time, there is an 18% increase in risk of cardiovascular risk.

Manage stress levels

There are many ways to achieve this and can be as simple as connecting with people, being active and practicing mindfulness.

Focus on sleep quality and duration

Go to bed on time and ensure you are allowing yourself 7-9 hours of quality rest per day.

A strong heart means that it can slow down quickly and smoothly. Identify improvement opportunities within your own lifestyle that can support a healthy heart.

For more information on how you can have a healthy heart visit Risk factors for heart and circulatory diseases | BHF.

Get in touch to book our Healthy Heart Webinar. Give us a call on 01925 909 614 or email admin@tohealthltd.co.uk.

To read about the benefits of knowing your health stats, visit The Benefits of Knowing Your Health Stats | ToHealth (tohealthltd.co.uk)

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