Do you know heart disease and stroke alone caused 15 million deaths in 2015? According to WHO cardiovascular disease is the number one killer worldwide.
In the hustle and bustle of life, your heart is neglected the most. This is why 1 in every 5 deaths is caused by heart disease. But the good news is you can lower your risk of heart diseases by incorporating some healthy habits.
If you wish to have a stronger heart then Keep your A (A1C), B (Blood pressure) and C (Cholesterol) under control
- 1 If you wish to have a stronger heart then Keep your A (A1C), B (Blood pressure) and C (Cholesterol) under control
- 1.1 A for A1C
- 1.2 1. Regular Exercise
- 1.3 2. Balanced Diet
- 1.4 3. Healthy Schedule
- 1.5 4. Keeping a Journal
- 1.6 B for Blood Pressure
- 1.7 1. Shed Those Extra Pounds!
- 1.8 2. Exercise Your Way Up
- 1.9 3. DASH or Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension
- 1.10 4. Say “NO” to Sodium but “YES” to Potassium
- 1.11 5. Let’s not Bottoms Up!
- 1.12 6. No ifs or Butts
- 1.13 7. Manage stress
- 1.14 C for Cholesterols
- 1.15 1. Regular Physical Activity
- 1.16 2. Switch to TLC diet
- 1.17 3. Go Fish Go Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A for A1C
AHA (American Heart Association) suggests checking your A1C level twice a year. The A1C is a type of blood test that provides information about a person’s average levels of blood glucose, over the past 3 months. This is a very simple test which can be done at doctor’s office.
According to recent studies, increased level of A1C is an indication of cardiovascular disease. It is observed that those healthy normal men and women who do not have diabetes but increased level of A1C are 10 times at risk of developing heart diseases.
But a small change in your lifestyle can have a visible impact on your heart. So, to have a controlled A1C, you may start with,
1. Regular Exercise
Research published on NCBI shows that regular exercise helps in reducing blood glucose therefore A1C. 30 minutes work out 5 days a week will serve the purpose. And if you do not prefer to hit the gym then take your dog to walk or play sports that raise your heart rate.
2. Balanced Diet
Avoid overeating. Fuel up with non-starchy food like vegetables and fruits. Be mindful of calorie consumption. Say, “No” to processed and sugary foods as they are packed with high calories. Consult with a certified dietician if needed.
3. Healthy Schedule
Do not let the blood sugar level fluctuate by skipping meals or overeating. A long gap between meals is also harmful. Stick to a healthy regime that best suits your lifestyle.
4. Keeping a Journal
Check your blood sugar on your own or as and when directed by your doctor. Keeping a journal of your blood sugar level is a good practice. This will give a clear picture of your A1C level and how best controlled it is.
B for Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is the key indicator of cardiovascular disease. According to World Heart Federation, there are 970 million people worldwide having elevated blood pressure. WHO says elevated blood pressure is the key contributory factor to premature death worldwide. Besides, high blood pressure is the single most important factor for stroke.
Systolic blood pressure at or above 140 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure at or above 90 mmHg is considered hypertension, doctors say.
A better blood pressure management makes your heart stronger and words off cardiovascular diseases. Regular blood pressure monitoring is fundamental for people having hypertension.
Here are the few lifestyle changes that will help you manage your blood pressure the best:
1. Shed Those Extra Pounds!
Excessive belly fat is linked to cardiovascular diseases, says Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Besides, long-term obesity can lead to stroke, sleep apnea, fatigue, depression, diabetes, and hypertension. If you think you are over your ideal body weight then this is the time to slim down. Remember, reducing your waistline always has a positive effect on your heart health.
2. Exercise Your Way Up
Recent research has demonstrated that physical activity for 30 minutes a day can lower your blood pressure by 8 to 9 mmHg. But consistency is the key. Inconsistency can raise your blood pressure again. A regular workout help prevents the onset of hypertension. You doctor knows you better; therefore make sure to consult one before choosing any exercise.
3. DASH or Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension
According to the Mayo Clinic, choosing DASH diet is proved to be the most effective in controlling high blood pressure by 14 mmHg. It focuses on taking portion size fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products while cutting down saturated fats and cholesterol. See your doctor and make sure if the DASH diet is the right choice for you.
4. Say “NO” to Sodium but “YES” to Potassium
Reducing sodium intake can lower your blood pressure by 2-8 mmHg. Make sure to cut down on processed food. Reading food label before purchasing is a good practice. Up your intake of potassium as this will neutralize the bad effect of sodium. Cut back gradually if you cannot stop consuming sodium as such. Keep a food diary.
5. Let’s not Bottoms Up!
Alcohol in moderation can reduce your blood pressure by 2-4 mmHg. But heavy drinking can elevate blood pressure to a dangerous level. Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause abnormal heart rhythm, injury to your heart muscle and even stroke, reported British Heart Foundation.
A GENTLE REMINDER: Alcohol contains calories which are a greater contributor to weight gain.
6. No ifs or Butts
Quitting tobacco is one of the best approaches towards a healthy heart. Every time you smoke your blood pressure raises over the normal level. According to British Heart Foundation, smoking increases the chances of developing heart diseases by manyfold.
It also damages the inner lining of arteries leading to fat deposition and narrowing of arteries. And these conditions cause the heart attack.
Secondhand smoking is another risk factor to your heart health says Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated death from heart disease caused by passive smoking is approximately 2500000 since 1964. Take every possible measure to prevent and protect yourself from smoking.
7. Manage stress
The modern world has gifted us with every comfort imaginable. But not any particular tool to deal with stress. With every passing day, life is becoming more stressful and less peaceful. Stress management has become a serious issue so far.
Studies show that stress is one of the major risk factors to heart disease. It creates hormonal imbalance leading to cardiovascular disease. Stress management is the foremost for everyone. You can manage stress with healthy habits like,
1. Practicing Deep Breathing
3. Regular Exercise
4. Spending time with family
5. Being goal oriented
6. Limiting your expectations, etc.
C for Cholesterols
According to National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, elevated blood cholesterol (LDL) is one of the key risk factors for heart disease. High level of cholesterol causes narrowing of arteries leading to atherosclerosis.
Therefore, the blood flow to the heart slows down or block completely. And a complete cut-off of blood supply to the heart causes a heart attack. To help control your blood cholesterol you may start with following practices,
1. Regular Physical Activity
Sticking to any type of physical activity that pumps up your lungs and raises your heart rate can reduce you LDL, which is bad cholesterol and raises HDL or good cholesterol.
2. Switch to TLC diet
The TLC diet emphasizes on sufficient calories intake to maintain an ideal weight but discourages weight gain. It focuses on low saturated fat and low-cholesterol eating plan.
Recommended calories from the saturated fat are 7% whereas less than 200mg dietary cholesterol is strictly maintained. If you do not find any improvement in your LDL level, then add more soluble fiber like oats, apples, pears, barley, and avocados.
3. Go Fish Go Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A research published on NCBI demonstrated the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids to heart health. Apart from its numerous usages on multiple ailments, Omega-3 fatty acids are widely used for the prevention of primary and secondary stage of heart diseases.
Mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are among the few fishes rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming them at least two times a week recommends American Heart Association.
If you do not like fish then you can take Omega-3 supplements, the most commonly prescribed suppliants available in the market.