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Sunday, May 20, 2012

92 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

92 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

The primary causes of heart attack stems from inappropriate nutrition, low levels of physical activity, high levels of stress and smoking. These result in high blood pressure, diabetes and high blood cholesterol, which lead to a heart attack. Dr. Christian Barnard, credited with doing the first human transplant surgery in 1967, spent the latter years of his life preaching lifestyle change to avoid heart attacks. Here are some of the tips taken from several of his books on how to have a healthy heart.
  • Eat in moderation. Stop eating while you are still hungry.
  • Diets depress and irritate you. Dieting often leads to nutrient deficiencies.
  • Weight reduction cannot happen without physical exercise.
  • More important than weight loss, is fat loss.
  • Don’t deny yourself the foods you like. Just eat them less often.
  • Have soup before a meal. You will then eat less. Eat less, but more often. This increases metabolism.
  • Fish meat contains omega fatty acids. These are good for the heart.
  • Eat fresh vegetables and fruits daily. Refrigerated vegetables lose between 50 to 60 percent of their nutrients.
  • Fruits and vegetables eaten daily lower the risk of cancer and heart attacks, while protecting against illness and infection.
  • The secret of a Mediterranean diet is lots of fruit, vegetables, wine, olive oil, physical activity and a stress-free life.
  • Eat balanced meals. Eat only if hungry. Do not snack.
  • Don’t reuse cooking oils.
  • Don’t get too worked up if your cholesterol levels are slightly high. Smoking and being overweight is probably worse than having moderately high cholesterol.
  • Garlic, fish, wine and exercise are weapons against cholesterol.
  • Tomatoes, lemon, spinach, carrots, broccoli, onions and garlic reduce cholesterol and fight free radicals damage. A mixture of a fruit and vegetable juice will give you the antioxidants you need to rid your body of free radicals and toxins.
  • You must have a multi-vitamin and multi-mineral pill daily.
  • Be relaxed while eating.
  • The night time meal must be light.
  • Alcohol should be consumed in moderation.
  • If you don’t like alcohol, you don’t have to have it.
  • Drinking red wine reduces the probability of heart ailments by up to 60 percent, and also protects against strokes. It is good for the blood, has a positive effect on cholesterol and also against atherosclerosis.
  • Alcohol helps in dissolving dangerous clots in the blood.
  • Alcohol can raise the level of good HDL cholesterol.
  • Wine cannot alter the consequences of smoking or not exercising.
  • 90 percent of all situations that cause us stress are trivial and inconsequential.
  • Stress currently affects women more than it does men.
  • Stress can motivate and challenge us.
  • Be a dreamer, but set yourself attainable goals. Don’t be a perfectionist. Accepting that you are not perfect reduces you blood pressure and stress.
  • Learn to delegate.
  • Show emotion (grief, anger, joy). By suppressing your emotions, you increase your risk of heart attack.
  • Those who hire and fire have the highest risk of heart attacks amongst executives. Those that fire take it more to heart, than those who have been fired.
  • The colder the season, the more the heart attacks.
  • Avoid undue time spent on TV, computers and pets in your bedroom.
  • People with pets have less heart problems than those without pets.
  • Watching Television is one of the main causes of obesity.
  • Cell phones are addictive and cause stress.
  • Do not make your mobile your constant partner (at dinner, in the toilet, at the movies).
  • A cheerful, tolerant disposition reduces heart problems.
  • Laughter therapy has been scientifically proven as good for health. Laughter reduces blood pressure, stress, cancer and heart problems.
  • Having the courage to admit a mistake helps you gain confidence and conviction.
  • Women respond more calmly than men to aggression.
  • Share your problems by talking things over.
  • Think positively, be an optimist.
  • Happily married people are the least likely to have heart attacks. Lonely people run a greater risk of not surviving a heart attack.
  • Maintain old friendships and make new friends. The more your friends, the greater your health.
  • Anger can be fatal for cardiac patients. Anger counseling is known to reduce recurring hostility and stress by over 70 percent.
  • Faith can prolong your life – they strengthen the immune system. Active religious believers live eight to ten years longer than those who don’t.
  • Belief and a positive mental attitude can be the difference between success and failure in cancer and cardiac recovery.
  • Have an annual medical check-up. It is the most fundamental rule of good health.
  • While your week belongs to your office, your weekend belongs to your family.
  • Your day belongs to your work; your evenings belong to you to do as you wish.
  • A stress filled job requires a lazy holiday. A monotonous job requires hiking and trekking in your vacation.
  • Having a two or three week holiday is good for your family and for your health.
  • Your work either satisfies you, or it will make you ill. More than 50% of employees suffer from job related stress.
  • People who are yelled at in the workplace take more sick leaves.
  • Stressful jobs are responsible for heart attacks. When your job depresses you – Quit.
  • Office politics and canteen gossip cause major stress to hardworking employees.
  • Feel free to praise yourself - very few others will.
  • Keep your job options open. Loyalty is old fashioned in this modern world.
  • Surround yourself with capable people at work.
  • An afternoon siesta is good for the heart and the brain. A 30-minute nap improves memory and performance.
  • Too little sleep is bad for the heart. Too much sleep is indicative of depression.
  • A person who sleeps less will have higher levels of blood pressure. People who sleep less have up to 70 percent poorer health than those who sleep sufficiently. People, who suffer sleep deprivation, lose up to 25% of their intellectual capacity.
  • Lack of sleep reduces the body’s immunity. Eight to nine hours sleep a day is best. Sleep and get up at the same time all days. Never sleep with anger on your mind.
  • Set goals, targets and objectives, and strive to reach them collectively. Share your concerns and stresses – don’t bottle up.
  • Breathe deeply while stressed. Counter office stress by going for short walks every hour.
  • Flowers, plants and an aquarium relieve stress. Stretch and yawn often, this reduces stress.
  • Music is a balm for the soul and is good for the heart. Music reduces stress.
  • According to research, sudden loud noise, or continuous low level irritating sound is an independent cardiac risk factor.
  • Traffic noise and machinery sounds increase adrenaline, affect blood composition, and increase the risk of heart attacks.
  • Nature’s sounds, water flowing and birds chirping are known to calm the heart.
  • Every 10 seconds, someone somewhere is dying of cigarette smoke. 35% of all heart related deaths are directly related to cigarette smoke.
  • Cigarette smoke contains 4000 different substances that are harmful to the body, brain and heart. Accordingly to World Health Organisation, smokers have a higher risk of cancer and cardiac ailments.
  • Smoking causes high blood pressure. The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke inhibits the good cholesterol and raises the levels of bad cholesterol.
  • Women who smoke and are on contraceptive have a much higher risk of heart attacks.
  • Smokers who exercise increase their chances of surviving a heart attack. Coordinate your ‘quit smoking’ regimen with a programme of sports activity and you will improve your chances of success.
  • Every hour that you walk increases your lifespan by as much.
  • Sport helps the body battle all diseases including cancer and heart attacks.
  • Exercise releases happiness endorphins in the body, keeping you trim and healthy, while also improving the quality and length of life.
  • Exercise reduces blood pressure, reduces cholesterol and reduces diabetes. It also battles stress.
  • Exercisers survive heart attacks. Exercise strengthens all the muscles of the body including the muscles of the heart.
  • Exercise for 30-60 minutes daily at a moderate intensity. One hour of exercise utilises one meal.
  • Frequent blood donation every three to six months, is good for the heart.
  • Nothing is better for the heart than making love frequently. Sex relieves tension and releases the feel-good hormone in the body.
  • Sexually active men and women live longer, but sex outside of a loving relationship can be harmful to the body.
  • Like exercise, for sex to be beneficial, it must be regular. Twice a week is as good for the heart as exercising every day.
  • Every day activities such as climbing stairs, carrying the groceries, gardening etc are good for the heart. Daily household activities, such as making the beds, cleaning the house etc. cuts your risk of heart attack by half.
  • Laziness and being sedentary constitutes the same cardiac risk as high blood pressure and smoking. Regular exercise strengthens the heart, and reduces heart activity by a million heart beats each month.
  • Start your exercise gradually (by warming up) and do not stop your exercise abruptly (do a gradual cool down). This manages the heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Exercise improves circulation, reduces body fat, improves cholesterol, strengthens the bones, combats depression, reduces blood pressure, reduces stress, overcomes insomnia, and increases self confidence.
  • Swimming is as good, if not better than running as an exercise. Golf for executives balances the stresses of work.
  • Never delay a good health resolution (to reduce weight, quit smoking, exercise, etc). Always start immediately. Not tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Start NOW.

Preventing Heart Disease: Know Risk to No Risk

The World Health Organisation, World Heart Federation and the World Bank are all unanimous in their verdict – India is suffering huge economic burdens due to heart and blood vessel diseases (principally heart attacks and strokes). Over 3 million Indians presently lose their lives annually due to these diseases and the toll is expected to rise to over 5 million in 2020. Nearly half of these deaths occur under the age of 70 years. India lost 9.2 million potentially productive years of life due to heart disease related deaths occurring prematurely in the age group of 35-64 years in 2000. This loss will reach 17.9 million years by 2030. In comparison with USA, India’s loss was 570% more in 2000 and will be 940% more in 2030. A country that wishes to position itself as a major economic power in the 21st century cannot afford such hemorrhaging of precious human resources in the prime of their life. While socio-economic transitions (living habits altered by urbanisation and globalisation) and demographic transitions (increasing life expectancy, with more deaths occurring at older age) contribute to the rise in the risk of heart diseases, much of the risk is avoidable. Many of the deaths due to heart attacks and strokes can be prevented or at least postponed to a much older age, with very few succumbing before 80 years. Our ability to prevent the onset of these diseases and slow down their progression depends on the knowledge of the factors which increase or decrease the risk of developing disease. Extensive scientific evidence from several countries clearly demonstrates that behavioural risk factors like an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco consumption and stress lead to elevation of biological risk factors like blood pressure cholesterol (and other harmful fats) and sugar. Increased body weight and an expanding waist circumference mediate between these behavioural and biological risk factors. All of these risk factors operate along a continuous risk gradient – it is better to have a blood pressure of 120/80 than 130/85 which is preferable to 140/90 or more. Since the mid-range values occur in maximum numbers of people in any population, more heart attacks arise from the many people who have modest elevation of risk factors than in the few who have very high levels (akin to C K Prahlad’s book Base of the Pyramid). When many risk factors co-exist, the risk is additive. Thus, many people with ‘mild’ elevation of several risk factors end up with a high risk of heart attacks. It is important for doctors to do a full risk profiling of all major risk factors to estimate the composite or ‘absolute’ risk of developing a heart attack or stroke in the near future. Based on that estimate of individual risk, decisions on lifestyle advice and drug therapy can be customised. Every contact between a healthcare provider and one seeking healthcare must be utilised for risk assessment and ‘missed opportunities’ for early detection must be minimised in primary healthcare.
People must recognise that many of these risk factors can be prevented or reduced by exercising intelligent choices. Keeping away from tobacco significantly reduces the risk of a heart attack, while smoking excessively magnifies the risk posed by high blood pressure or diabetes. Reducing salt consumption reduces the number of deaths due to strokes by 22% and those from heart attacks by 16%. Avoiding unhealthy fats, reducing refined sugars and increasing the intake of fruit and vegetables further reduces the risk substantially. Physical inactivity increases the risk by 1.5 times while even moderate activity, regularly performed, is very good. With such healthy habits, risk factors such as body weight, belly fat, blood pressure, blood sugar and blood fats can be kept under check. The World Health Organisation believes that 75% of the risk can be prevented by such measures. It is also useful for adults, especially those with a family history of premature heart disease, to undertake regular check-ups for identification of risk factors and estimation of the ‘absolute’ risk. ‘Knowing the risk’ means that the person concerned as well as the physician can take effective measures to reduce it. Through a judicious combination of lifestyle measures (always needed) and drugs (whenever needed), much of the risk can be avoided or reversed. It is then very much possible to proceed to a ‘No Risk’ status. That is why the theme for the World Heart Day adopted in 2008 - “Know Your Risk” is very relevant.


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