Maintaining Good Heart Health: Manipal Nurse Weekly Column

We often think about things like preventing high cholesterol, being overweight and high blood pressure and many of us overlook an important element to our good health: A healthy heart.

Preventative measures against heart disease are many and often so simple, that we are remiss in ignoring them. In addition, our bodies are such intriguing things that even though the focus might he on good heart health. the process of doing things to achieve this, contribute to other areas of our physiology positively.

One of these is getting regular, daily exercise. And, through high intensity workouts, longer duration and frequency can garner better results, day-to-day activities like housekeeping, gardening and simply taking stairs instead of the elevator, can contribute to your ‘get moving’ routine. Physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, most days, can aid in controlling weight. This lessens the chances of developing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which put unnecessary strain on the heart.

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Working out regularly also reduces stress, another reason that may be responsible for heart disease.

The holiday season is here and for many it may be a tall order to remember healthy eating, but, despite this, it’s important that we try. Before we even look at the necessary cut backs, what about those things you might need to increase? For example, more fruits and vegetables are important for a healthy heart and helps prevent other diseases as well. Getting lots of Omega-3 fatty acids is also believed to be a preventive measure for heart attack and irregular heartbeats. Salmon and mackerel along with some other fish are great sources of this. What you don’t want, is lots of saturated fat, which can come from dairy products and red meat. to name a few.

Additionally, foods high in trans fat like pastries, margarine’s and deep-fried fast foods, should also be put on the back burner, are excluded all together.

As mentioned earlier, excess weight can lead to conditions that increase an individuals chances of heart disease. In light of this, it is important to know where you stand body-wise. So, calculate your body mass index (BMI). This determines whether you have a healthy or unhealthy percentage of body fat, by considering your height and weight. If your number is 25 or higher, that means you are on the higher scale and things like exercise and a change in diet must be considered to avoid possible problems in the future. Good news? A weight reduction of just 10 percent, can decrease your blood pressure and lower your blood cholesterol level, thus reducing your risk of heart disease and other ailments.

In addition to lung cancer and respiratory problems, smoking is a major risk Factor for developing heart disease. The nicotine in cigarette smoke makes your heart work really hard, as it. narrows your blood vessels, which increases both heart rate and blood pressure. The carbon monoxide in the smoke replaces some of the oxygen in your blood, which again keeps the heart working overtime just to supply more oxygen to the body. In addition, the narrowing of the arteries {atherosclerosis}, can lead to a heart attack. Exposure to second-hand smoke also puts people at risk.

Lastly, make sure you get regular checkups, especially as you grow older. Keeping abreast of what’s happening in your body can make it easier to detect, negative and positive changes.

About Nurse 67 Articles
When I think about all the patients and their loved ones that I have worked with over the years, I know most of them don't remember me nor I them. But I do know that I gave a little piece of myself to each of them and they to me and those threads make up the beautiful tapestry in my mind that is my career in nursing.