The heart works non-stop for our entire lifetime. Taking care for the heart is a necessity that everyone should keep in mind. Doing some small changes in lifestyle can make a real difference. The doctors at the best cardiac hospitals in India advise for these 10 small steps that one can undertake, to achieve better cardiac health –
- When it comes to sleep, aim for the number seven.
In one study, young and middle-aged adults who slept more than 7 hours a night had less calcium in their arteries, an early sign of heart disease, than those who slept for 5 hours or less or those who slept for 9 hours or more. This study concludes that sleeping for around 7 hours a night is optimal.
- Keep the blood pressure in control
If the blood pressure gets too high, the extra force can damage the artery walls and create scar tissue. This makes the heart pump harder and gets more oxygen to the body. If the body is not able to get sufficient oxygen, it tends to behave differently. Getting the blood pressure checked every 3-4 weeks is a good practice that helps in keeping a track. Cutting back on salt and having good eating habits is also an important factor to maintain heart health. In most cases, mild hypertension can be managed by medication and is usually easy for patients to manage.
- Reduce saturated fats.
To help the heart’s arteries, cutting down on saturated fats is a good step. These are found in meat and dairy products. Choosing leaner fat options is a recommended choice. These saturated fats increase the LDL levels of cholesterol in the blood resulting in more chances of heart problems.
- Finding if you are suffering from diabetes.
Millions of people are undiagnosed cases of diabetes. Over time, these high levels of glucose in the blood result in damaged arteries which lead to worsening of the heart conditions. If a person is 45 years of age or older, they should test themselves for diabetes. Other risk factors for diabetes can include –
- Being pregnant
- Being overweight
Working with your doctor to modify the lifestyle (diet and exercise) and a medicinal course is usually sufficient for mild diabetic cases.
If a patient has borderline high blood glucose, called prediabetes, things can be turned around very easily. They are usually advised to trade carbs with fiber-rich whole grains. This changes a lot of bodily processes and takes the body towards positive growth. These steps are a start, but doing so helps the body to recover from the damage caused.
- Exercise more.
To maintain a schedule, it is advisable to aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of moderate exercise. This can include any activity that gets you moving around and breaking a sweat. If you are not doing anything, do something, concluding that if you think that the time is idle, utilize that time to work out. If working out is too much, try moving around the house or the office a little to get the heart pacing and reach for results. The usual advice given by cardiologists is to break a long period of sitting. If you think you’ve been sitting for a while, get up or start walking. These things can be incorporated while watching TV or talking over the phone.
- . Clean up.
The heart runs the best when it works on clean fuel. Clean fuel means eating healthy and what keeps your heart running right. That means a lot of whole, plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds) and lesser refined/processed foods (white bread, pasta, crackers, and cookies).
One of the fastest ways to clean up the diet is to cut out all the sugary beverages like soda and fruit juice. These juices contain only the sugar but lack the fibre that is present in the actual fruit.
- Check if your weight is in the proper range.
Check your BMI and make sure if it is in the healthy range. If you have a high BMI, then plan to shed some pounds by diet modifications primarily. Apart from these, exercise regimes and being more active helps in keeping the weight in the appropriate range. This reduces the risk of heart problems.
- Say no to cigarettes (real and electronic)
Smoking and secondhand smoke are bad for the heart. If you smoke, quit. If you don’t, and people around you do, spend less time there.
- Do more of what you like to do.
The best way of managing stress in a healthy way is to meditate, yoga or exercise. If these things help you in relieving the stress a little, try these. For other, talking to their loved ones, laughing, or enjoying the company of their close ones can also prove helpful. It’s good for emotional health and your heart.
- Celebrating each step.
Making changes will take time and a lot of effort. The aim of taking these steps should be progress, not perfection. Rewarding yourself on every positive step taken will support the emotional well-being and motivate furthermore.