Mat­ters of the heart Ten ways you can be kind to your ticker


Better Homes and Gardens (Australia) - - March Contents -

how’s your heart? If it’s still tick­ing, that’s a plus! Ideally, though, you want it to be still tick­ing and in great work­ing or­der so it can do its job (pump­ing oxy­gen-rich blood and vi­tal nu­tri­ents to ev­ery nook and cranny of your body) with a min­i­mum of fuss. Bor­ing stat time: car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease (CVD) is the lead­ing cause of death in Aus­tralia and about

4.5 mil­lion Aussies live with some de­gree of heart and/or blood ves­sel trou­ble that puts them at in­creased risk for a heart at­tack or stroke. Sure, some con­di­tions are hered­i­tary or con­gen­i­tal, but most, ac­cord­ing to the Heart Foun­da­tion, are largely pre­ventable. Mean­ing it doesn’t have to be this way! Man­age­able risks in­clude high blood pres­sure (BP), high choles­terol, be­ing obese or over­weight, type 2 di­a­betes, smok­ing and park­ing your butt in­stead of putting it in drive.

Agreed, some life­style habits are tough to change. Also agreed, any in­con­ve­nience in­curred try­ing to im­ple­ment those changes will be more than worth it!



1 Be aware of your per­sonal risk

fac­tors. Know your num­bers (BP, choles­terol, triglyc­erides, blood glu­cose, waist cir­cum­fer­ence). Knowl­edge is power.

2 Eat less red meat. Re­searchers at the Na­tional Heart, Lung and Blood In­sti­tute in the US found fre­quent red meat eaters had triple

the lev­els of a gut-gen­er­ated chem­i­cal linked to heart dis­ease than those who ate mainly white meat and plant­based pro­teins. Aim for less than three serves per week.

3 Eat more fish,

es­pe­cially oily va­ri­eties, for their heart-healthy omega 3 ben­e­fits. Fish is also a great source of low sat-fat pro­tein, zinc and vi­ta­min B12. Choose from fresh or canned salmon, blue-eye trevalla, blue mack­erel, sar­dines, mul­let and trout. 4 Be salt wise. By low­er­ing your sodium in­take, you help lower high BP, too. Shake less at the ta­ble, but also watch out for high sodium in snacks and take­away food.

5 Re­think the strong stuff.

The heart health ben­e­fits of al­co­hol, specif­i­cally red wine, may have been some­what over­stated, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est find­ings. No more than one stan­dard drink per day is the cur­rent go. Ex­ces­sive con­sump­tion, along with binge drink­ing, is no bueno for your heart.

6 Don’t smoke. While the num­ber of smok­ers in Oz has fallen dra­mat­i­cally in the last decade, about 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple still light up daily and a fur­ther quar­ter mil­lion ad­mit to ‘so­cial’ smok­ing. Along with be­ing the lead­ing pre­ventable cause of can­cer deaths, it robs your heart, lungs and brain of oxy­gen, and dam­ages blood ves­sels.

7 Sleep well. Poor-qual­ity sleep can play havoc with your heart, es­pe­cially if you have sleep ap­noea. Suf­fer­ers (usu­ally heavy snor­ers) stop breath­ing for pre­cious sec­onds mul­ti­ple times a night as ob­structed air­ways starve the body of oxy­gen. It usu­ally takes a partner to no­tice, but if you’re con­stantly ex­hausted de­spite get­ting eight hours, ask your GP about a sleep study.

8 Re­lax! The stress hor­mones cor­ti­sol and adren­a­line come in handy when you’re run­ning from a bear, but liv­ing with chronic stress is hor­ri­ble for your to­tal men­tal and phys­i­cal well­be­ing. Iden­tify your ma­jor stres­sors and get busy craft­ing ways to nix or calm them. ‘Me’ time in which you of­ten do some­thing that brings you joy and/or peace is a non-ne­go­tiable. 9 Be ac­tive. Ex­er­cise strength­ens your heart by helping you reach and stay at a healthy weight. It also keeps red flag prob­lems such as hy­per­ten­sion and type 2 di­a­betes at bay. Ideally, a combo of aer­o­bic ex­er­cise (to el­e­vate heart rate) along with re­sis­tance (strength) work and stretch­ing (for flex­i­bil­ity) is best. But, go­ing with the the­ory that some­thing is bet­ter than noth­ing, just go for a brisk daily walk if that’s all you can fit in!

10 Find the funny. Laugh­ter helps re­duce stress, im­prove cir­cu­la­tion, boost im­mu­nity and get those happy hor­mones flow­ing. Shared laugh­ter is one of life’s great bond­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, and fos­ters good-for-your­heart friend­ship and in­ti­macy.

Ex­er­cise is a cel­e­bra­tion of what can do HEART FOUN­DA­TION

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