We all know that keeping our hearts in tip top condition is essential to living a long and healthy life. Most of us take steps to stay well, such as not smoking or drinking excessive alcohol, but are there other things you should be doing (or not doing) to give your ticker the resilience it needs to keep you well into later life?
Here are five things to focus on every day to help keep your heart healthy.
1. Get more sleep
If you don’t get enough sleep, you could be increasing the risk of developing heart problems no matter how old you are or what other habits you have. Research has shown that people sleeping less than six hours per night are around two times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than those who regularly get six to eight hours of shut eye a night. Sleeping too little can disrupt biological processes such as managing blood pressure and inflammation in the body, so aim for at least seven to eight hours every night.
2. Avoid trans fats
Excluding fats from your diet completely is never a good idea, because our bodies need healthy fats to stay well. However, some fats should be avoided as much as possible, such as trans fat which is known to raise the risk of heart disease. Trans fats raise your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels (LDL) and drive down your good cholesterol, clogging arteries and putting strain on your heart. You’ll find trans fats in packaged and processed foods such as margarine, fried food, crisps and biscuits.
3. Avoid second hand smoke
We all know that smoking is terrible for our heart health, but what if you live or work with smokers? Research has shown that people exposed to second hand smoke are around 30 per cent more at risk of heart disease, even higher in those who suffer with high blood pressure or cholesterol. If you know a smoker, make it clear that you don’t want to be exposed to their second-hand smoke.
4. Keep your teeth healthy too
Your dental hygiene is a clear marker of your overall health and taking care of your teeth could prevent more than just cavities. Research into the link between gum disease and heart problems is ongoing, but early studies have indicated that bacteria involved in the development of gum disease can travel to the bloodstream and promote inflammation of the blood vessels, leading to increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Floss and brush every day to fight gum disease and prevent heart problems too.
5. Get up and move
It’s unfortunate that so many of us are confined to sedentary jobs, because all the research points to sitting for long periods being very bad for our health. Even if you exercise daily, sitting all day long can increase your risk of cardiovascular problems, which is bad news for people working in sit down jobs. Ask if you can purchase a sit-stand desk and stand for part of the day or make a point of taking a break regularly to walk around the office.
Here at Westgate Healthcare, we work hard to support our residents in keeping their hearts healthy. From helping them manage their medication to providing a healthy, balanced diet, we recognise how important good heart health is to everyone. For more information on how we can help your loved one, whether they have a heart condition or not, talk to our care team today.
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