Millions of people knowingly and unknowingly live with some form of heart disease. Contributing to more than 60,000 deaths annually in Canada alone, your heart’s health plays a major role in determining your long-term overall health. There are a variety of dietary and lifestyle choices that have great effect over the health of your heart, and making changes in the way that one leads their life can lead to highly positive consequences to improving overall health. Throughout our site, we provide a range of heart care tips, encouraging our readers to set goals for themselves and to improve their lifestyles.
Our aim is to be a helpful resource in helping you maintain a healthy heart. Your greatest resource, however, will always be the advice of your health care facilitator. If you have concerns with your own heart health, please connect with your physician immediately.
Making heart health a priority
Heart health is a major priority as more members of the population have come to be affected by heart disease, diabetes, and related conditions that put them at risk of heart disease. The pathway to a healthy heart begins with forming healthy heart habits. That is not necessarily the easiest thing for anyone though. We’ve all spent our lives developing habits and indulgences, and most of these are not easily kicked. Making small changes slowly over time however can mean huge gains in the long-term and will help to maintain your heart health.
How to develop new heart healthy habits
4 key points to remember when developing new habits that put your heart health in priority:
21 days to make or break a habit
Based on the findings of Maxwell Maltz in his 1960 publication “Psycho-Cybernetics”, it can take up to 21 days to create or remove a behavioral pattern, or habit, from your every day routine. This is an important consideration to make a note of, as you slowly begin to form new eating habits, make lifestyle changes, or get into gym routines to help improve heart health.
Focus on the positives
When making lifestyle or dietary changes, it’s best not to think in terms of deprivation. This is a common thought process which immediately puts a negative spin on the changes you are trying to implement. Instead, think in terms of replacement. All you’re doing is replacing a negative behavior with a more positive one.
Small victories add up
Lao Tzu once said, ” A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This approach to improving your heart health will give you frequent and more attainable milestone moments to help keep you on track. Break your long-term goals up into smaller, short-term goals that are more easily achievable.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Give yourself room to indulge from time to time. Heart health is not about avoiding troublesome foods altogether; it’s about gradually making positive changes to your lifestyle which will have a long term affect on your overall health. There’s nothing wrong with a few cheat days along the way.
Heart Care Tips: A Guide to a Healthier Heart
There are ten basic heart care tips that we want to share here that will keep your heart health a priority and that will offer highly positive benefits in the long-term.
Heart Care Tip #1: Choose Whole Grains
Choosing whole wheat products over refined products is better for your heart and can help improve your heart health over time. Thus anything in whole-grain kernel form such as whole wheat flour, brown rice, and oatmeal should be chosen over white bread or white rice, as an example. The ‘whole grain’ part of these meals contain fiber and nutrients that will help to lower your cholesterol; something that their more processed counterparts cannot boast.
Heart Care Tip #2: Add Fish to Your Meal Program
Omega-3 fatty acids are important to your heart health. They can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, thereby lowering the risk of atherosclerosis, hypertension, and potentially heart disease or stroke. Omega-3 fatty acids are found most prominently in salmon and tuna. By regularly including these fatty acids into your diet, you can help slow down or deter the build-up of plaque in arteries. For your heart health, it is recommended to eat at minimum two 3.5-ounce servings of oily fish a week to keep yourself going with a natural supplement of omega-3s.
Heart Care Tip #3: Get Your Heart Health Checked
Getting a cholesterol test should be done once every 5 years, for all adults aged 20 and above. If you have too much cholesterol in your system, this wax-like substance can lead to arteries hardening, heart disease, and significantly increase the risk of a heart attack.
Heart care tip #4 Be weary of meat
Many people are not going to refuse to eat meat. All that we ask is to be aware of the amount of meat you consume. A diet built around heart health should contain no more than 6 ounces of cooked lean meat a day. Please note that a standard serving size of meat is 3 ounces or about the size of a deck of cards. Therefore think two decks of cards for your daily limit. In addition to the actual portion size and amount of meat, pay attention to the kind of meat eaten. For example, red meats are higher in saturated fats and cholesterol, and giving preference to chicken or fish over these types of meats can help to avoid the negative consequences of red meat.
Heart care tip #5 Exercise 30 Minutes a Day
Moderate-level exercise is recommended for most days of the week for at least thirty minutes. This helps get your heart pumping, keeping it healthy and keeping you active. Something as easy as choosing to go for a fast-paced walk or jog instead of a leisurely stroll can do your heart a lot of good. It is important to remember that in terms of weight loss and heart health, exercise on its own is not enough. To achieve maximum heart health, exercise needs to be paired with a low-calorie diet which will help keep everything in an optimum state.
Heart care tip #6 Avoid High Calories, Sodium, and Saturated Fats
Check your food labels. If it’s rated high in calories, sodium, or saturated fats, it’s best avoided. If you’re not familiar with reading labels, it can be a bit of a learning curve but your heart health will thank you in the long run. Pay attention to serving size as well. You may need to multiply or divide depending on how much of a given food item you intend to consume in a meal.
Heart care tip #7 Be Aware of the Risks of Diabetes
If you suffer from diabetes, heart health becomes even more important. More than 65 percent of people with diabetes pass due to a cardiovascular cause. If you already are a diabetic, keeping your blood pressure below 130 mm Hg (systolic) and 80 mm Hg (diastolic) is needed.
Heart care tip #8 Avoid added Sugar
You’re putting your heart health at risk if you choose too many sweets and processed starches. You don’t need to be a diabetic to increase your risk of heart disease by choosing foods with added sugar. Desserts, candy, and sweetened beverages have highly negative consequences if consumed regularly over a long-term period. It is recommended that women consume less than 100 calories of added sugar a day whereas men are suggested no more than 150. This type of sugar is not needed for the body to function properly and, in most cases, this extra sugar will go straight to increasing your waist and size.
Heart care tip #9 Limit Salt Intake
Though many foods naturally contain salt, up to 75 percent of the salt found in the standard Canadian diet comes from processed foods i.e. soups, salad dressings, and other sources. It comes highly recommended to choose foods without added salt and to prepare your home-cooked meals with little or no salt for better heart health. Taking these precautions will ensure your blood pressure is kept under control and that your risk of heart disease is lowered. Limiting yourself to a half teaspoon of salt a day is an excellent measurement to ensure your heart health is kept a priority while not having to sacrifice the salt added to some of your favorite foods.
Heart care tip #10 Eat the Right Amount of fruits, vegetables, and Dairy
Having a healthy heart means keeping your diet diverse in what it takes in. Eating more of the foods that are good for you ensures that your body has all the sugar, salt, and fats it needs to function to its maximum capacity. Choosing non-fat or low-fat dairy products over whole milk, eating a colorful variety of fruits, and not being afraid of vegetables can have a highly positive impact on keeping your heart healthy. Vegetables in particular are rich sources of vitamins and fibers, and the more assorted your diet is in vegetables and fruit, the better.
The Importance of Following these Heart Care Tips
When putting together your lifestyle plan based around these ten heart care tips and the other information available through our site, the five most important things to remember are to eat healthy, stay physically active, maintain a healthy waist circumference, do not smoke, and to limit alcohol intake. If every Canadian were to follow these five health care tips, first-time heart attacks would decrease in men by about 80 percent according to research. In addition to this point, past research has identified that roughly 90 percent of all heart disease cases are preventable by modifying diet and lifestyle factors. It is highly positive to create major change in your body and to improve heart health significantly by making small changes over time. There is no reason not to follow through with everything that is put at risk if a healthy lifestyle is not being lead.
Exercising for a Healthy Heart
There are many benefits to exercise for a healthy heart. Moderate physical activity for thirty minutes a day will lower your risk of heart disease and stroke; control risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, certain types of cancer, and obesity; reduce stress levels; increase energy; improve sleep; and improve digestion. There are three types of exercise for a healthy heart for are considered to be above others. If you put yourself on a program to increase your physical activity, as long as it’s performed safely, no matter what kind of activity it is there will be positive benefits. As a basis though, we recommend the follow three types of exercise for a healthy heart.
Exercise for the Heart #1: Stretching
Stretching regularly will slowly lengthen your muscles, increase your range of motion, and improve your flexibility. Stretching your arms and legs before or after exercising can help prepare you for what’s ahead, prevent injury, and guard against muscle strain. In terms of heart health, this is low impact movement that can help as a basis to get yourself more active. Many people looking to improve heart health begin with stretching or yoga as a basis for further activity.
Exercise for the Heart #2: Cardio
There’s no real way around it. You need to get your body moving. Cardio can help to strengthen your heart and lungs, improve your body’s ability to use oxygen, and offers a number of other benefits to improving your heart health. Cardio can include walking, jogging, jumping rope, bicycling, cross-country skiing, skating, rowing, and/or low-impact aerobics such as those found in yoga or water aerobics. There are plenty of options to choose from in cardio making it easy to combine an activity of your choosing with a heart diet for maximum heart health.
Exercise for the Heart #3: Strength-Based Exercises
Strength-based exercise would be those found with heavy weights or with similar exercises. This involves repeated muscle contractions, tightening until the muscle becomes tired. If you have already experienced heart failure, generally strength exercise is not recommended however. Please consult a doctor if you have already experienced heart failure for an alternative.
The Risks of not Maintaining a Healthy Heart
Those who do not take care of their health and their heart face a variety of risks that come with an unhealthy lifestyle. Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter, for example, can cause the heart ventricles to contract irregularly, faster, and less efficiently than normal. Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter are both conditions with very serious consequences if left untreated. The arrhythmia that many people have come to know is an irregular heartbeat. Depending on the exact nature of the arrhythmia, there are a number of complications associated with the condition if left untreated.
There are a range of risks involved in not taking care of your heart health. The heart is a muscle and in order to work to its maximum efficiency, it needs to be well taken care of. If it experiences hardship, unlike a bicep tear or a quad tear or an injury to a muscle elsewhere in the body, heart failure has highly serious consequences. If you have had heart problems, building a healthy lifestyle for yourself will give yourself the physical strength and the peace of mind of ensuring that you are kept in top health possible.
The Importance of a Strong Heart
If you think that you don’t need to take care of your heart, you are wrong. The importance of heart health is high. At any age, at any time, a person can be affected by a heart condition with major consequences. Your heart is at the center of your cardiovascular system, and is responsible for everything from the transportation of oxygen to the success of your immune system. It is integral that the foods you eat and the amount of activity you choose to take part in is sufficient enough to increase and maintain the health of your heart.
Who are We?
HeartCareTips.com is an online medical resource that provides pertinent information on all conditions that pertain to the heart. We cater to patients, high-risk individuals, concerned family members, caregivers, as well as physicians. In addition to the medical information available on the site as it pertains to the heart, we also offer heart healthy recipes and heart healthy exercises as well. It is our ultimate goal to encourage our readers to eat healthy, to get more exercise, and to make living fun again while establishing a new routine based around appropriate heart health care. For more heart care tips, please browse through our site for more information on how you can better take care of your heart.