A healthy heart is important, your heart is a strong muscle about the size of the palm of your hand and it’s the engine that keeps your body running. The heart has two pumps, one using arteries to send blood with oxygen away from the heart, throughout the body and the other using veins to bring blood back to the heart and send it to the lungs to get more oxygen. An electrical system in the heart controls the heart beat or pulse.
Ageing can cause changes in the heart and blood vessels. As you get older, your heart can’t beat as fast during physical activity or stress as when you were younger. However, your heart rate, the number of heart beats per minute at rest does not change as you age. Many of the problems older people have with their heart and blood vessels are caused by disease and not by ageing. An older heart can normally pump blood as strong as a younger heart, less ability to pump blood is caused by disease. So changes that happen with age may increase a person’s risk of heart disease and this is where you can do things to delay, lower, or possibly avoid or reverse your risk. Things you can’t control, like your family history, might also increase your risk of heart disease. But by leading a heart-healthy lifestyle you may avoid or delay serious illness.
Did you know that heart disease is a bigger problem to women than breast cancer. Surprising as it is, it is true, it kills more women every year than breast cancer. Also research found that 50% of women are more likely to be misdiagnosed after suffering a heart attack than men and their long term outcomes are worse. Women’s symptoms may often be less typical than the crushing, radiating heart pain, being often stomach problems, nausea and fatigue and 95% of the women experienced new or different physical symptoms as long as a month before their heart attack.
Whether you are male or female, young or old, there are a few basic rules to follow if you want to keep that heart working to its optimum level.
Don’t smoke as it doubles the risk of heart disease and women smokers are even more vulnerable to the toxic chemicals.
Stay a healthy weight and pay particular attention to abdominal fat, extra fat around the middle of the body may increase your risk of heart disease.
Avoid spending lots of time sitting, people who do have higher levels of inflammatory chemicals that are linked to heart disease and diabetes, whereas standing triggers a series of metabolic processes that may protect against these. Linked to this of course is staying physically active, Getting – and staying – active can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It can also be a great mood booster and stress buster. So get out there as many times a week as you can and do some exercise you enjoy. Speak to your personal trainer who can tailor a program that will suit your needs.
Limit your alcohol, don’t forget alcohol contains calories. Regularly drinking more than the recommended daily amount can have a noticeable impact on your waistline. Try to keep to the recommended daily alcohol limits to reduce the risk of serious problems with your health, including risks to your heart health.
Keep your diabetes, high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol under control. You can help all of these by following a healthy diet with a combination of fruit, vegetables, pulses, oily fish, nuts, olive oil and a little lean meat and dairy. Again discuss with your personal trainer who can advise on a nutritional diet.
Learn to manage your stress as it doesn’t directly cause heart disease, but the way a person reacts to stress can increase their risk. Some people try to cope with stress by drinking more alcohol, eating more or unhealthily, or smoking, which can all be bad for the heart and in a person with heart disease, being stressed may trigger angina chest pain symptoms. Lifestyle changes such as change to healthy diet, more exercise, consider yoga or other relaxation techniques.