Keeping Your Heart Healthy: 7 Tips

Introduction

One of the leading causes of death in Australia is Cardiovascular disease, a collection of diseases associated with the heart and related blood vessels. In a small number of cases, these diseases can be inherited and unavoidable. However, the vast majority can be prevented through adoption of a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, it is important that high risk individuals understand the importance of healthy lifestyle choices, avoiding risks and frequently undergoing tests.

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Maintain a Healthy Weight

One of the most important factors in avoiding cardiovascular disease is through maintaining a healthy weight. However, height and other factors contribute to the “ideal weight” and therefore there is not one ideal weight for everyone. Therefore, the body mass index (BMI) method is commonly used, which indicates the ideal weight on an individual basis. Additionally, waist measurements are used to indicate risk (over 80 cm in women and 94 cm in men). Individuals with an unhealthy BMI and large waist should meet a dietitian who can advise on how to healthily lower them.

Reduce Your Salt Intake

There are many risks associated with excessive salt intake, including raised blood pressure, and increased risk in both cardiovascular diseases and strokes. Therefore, low levels are recommended (under 6 g for adults and 3 g for children). However, popularity of over processed foods and ready meals makes it challenging to lower global salt intake. Additionally, sodium content is often presented on food packets, however this is deceptive as 1 g sodium is the same as 2.5 g of salt.

Cut back on Sugar and Saturated Fats

Two of the biggest dietary contributors to heart disease risk are sugars and saturated fats. They both lead to weight gain, increased blood pressure, and therefore overall raised risk of heart disease. Saturated fats can also increase cholesterol levels, another risk factor of cardiovascular disease. However, reducing these levels can be difficult. Sugars can be reduced through lower intake of soda, juice and over processed food, whereas saturated fats are commonly found in meat and dairy, such as margarine and fatty meat.

Eat More Fish

Fish are an important element of a healthy diet as they contain vital nutrients called Omega-3 fatty acids, which have numerous benefits including lowering cholesterol and resulting in a healthy heart. The best sources of these fats are in pilchards, salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel. However, some plants also contain these fats, such as walnuts, spinach, flaxseed, soya, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds and canola oil.

Manage Your Stress

Stress can not only affect your mental health, but it can also have an indirect effect on the heart. Increased stress commonly increases drinking, unhealthy diets, and other poor lifestyle choices, which lead to increased cholesterol, BMI and blood pressure. Therefore, it is important to regulate stress levels and ensure a healthy lifestyle.

Pay Attention to Mental Health

Mental health itself is also a major risk factor contributing to heart disease risk, with particularly high chance in those who are socially detached or depressed. Therefore, it is important to seek help from mental health experts and doctors when struggling with mental health, in addition to maintaining a healthy social life.

Have a Regular Health Check-Up

Regular checkups, through private healthcare in Australia, helps to ensure a healthy weight, BMI, waist size, blood sugar levels, pressure and cholesterol level. Monitoring these measurements could help identify possible risk of heart disease and allow early intervention, thereby improving patient prognosis.

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Last updated: Aug 31, 2018 at 9:19 AM

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