Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in Canada. Cases in women tend to be more fatal as symptoms are often left untreated or misdiagnosed.
Multiple factors influence your heart’s functioning. These include genetic predisposition, tobacco use, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight. There is nothing you can do about genetic predisposition except to be aware of it as a risk factor. Many of these factors are within your power to change. It’s never too late to make lifestyle changes to improve your heart’s health.
We all need to be honest with ourselves about our risk factors. Take charge of your personal health and make some adjustments. Let’s look at the top preventative adjustments you can make to help your heart along.
For most folks this one is a no brainer but many are still battling this powerful addiction. Don’t stop trying to quit because eventually you will win. Talk to your doctor about medications that could help you. Come into Heart Pharmacy and we’d love to show you the smoking cessation aids we carry.
Physical activity is key to improving your heart functioning. It will decrease your blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce inflammation throughout your body and you’ll lose weight.
For many people it is tough to work up the appetite for exercise. Kick yourself in the butt and get out the door. The simple trick here is to do something you enjoy so that you stick with it. Don’t force yourself to sign up for a gym membership when you’d rather be outdoors.Know yourself.
Start out doing some kind of activity for 15 to 20 minutes three to five days a week. Build it up to 30 minutes five or six days a week. Give yourself a day or two off every week because you deserve it.
EAT THE RIGHT FATS
We need to eat more of the right fats not try to eliminate them. The most damaging fats are trans-fats. These are found in crisco, most margarine brands, most artificial coffee creamers and most commercial baked goods.The second most harmful fats are grain-based vegetable oils. We consume most of these in fried or fast foods.
Heart healthy fats are found in things like canola oil, olive oil, safflower oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, butter from grass fed cows and grass fed beef.
INCREASE VEGETABLES AND REDUCE REFINED GRAINS AND SWEETS
Pile on those veggies. They are healing to your heart and won’t cause your blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels to spike.
Reduce or eliminate refined grains like white bread, rolls, pasta, white rice, pizza, most breakfast cereals and baked goods. Instead eat whole starches like sweet potatoes, brown rice and rolled oats.
When you are craving sweets got for fruit instead.
Take time to appreciate what you have. Gratitude goes a long way in calming a busy mind. Try meditation and deep breathing to relax. Give yourself the time to read a good book, see a movie and have a good laugh with friends. Give yourself a day a week to ‘unplug’ from the world.
Your heart will appreciate these behavioral tweaks. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t do it all at once. Most can’t. Introduce change in increments, if that works for you. Just keep trying!