Reduce your stress level
Of course, it’s impossible to never be stressed, but too much stress can contribute to poor health and increase your risks of heart disease. This is partly caused by physical reactions and physiological reactions to stress such as increased blood pressure, a faster pulse or a higher amount of cholesterol present, and partly because of reactions to stress are rarely healthy: we tend to eat our emotions or want to relax with a drink, things that don’t help your heart in the long term. Reducing your stress level and learning techniques to manage and to cope with it, therefore, becomes an important part of keeping your heart healthy.
Control your cholesterol
Most people don’t know that there are two types of cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is often called the « bad cholesterol » because it’s the one responsible for the buildup of plaque on the walls of your arteries and must be controlled so it maintains normal levels in your blood and maximizes your chances of having a healthy heart. If you are at risk of having high levels of cholesterol, ask your doctor to have it checked.
Risks of having high levels of cholesterol:
- Male 40 years old or over
- Women aged 50 and over or who have started menopause
- Family history of heart disease
- Waist circumference larger than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in woman
Keep an eye on your blood pressure
Hypertension is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. It’s therefore important to ensure your blood pressure is within the normal levels because, with time, hypertension can cause irreversible damage to the walls of your blood vessels and your heart. A normal blood pressure reading is below 120/80 mm Hg. Exercise and good eating habits can help reduce your risks of hypertension.
Laugh as often as possible
A study at the University College of London found that laughter relaxes our arteries, which increases blood flow for a period of up to 45 minutes! That is an excellent reason to laugh as often as possible! The minimum daily dose recommended of hearty laughter is 15 minutes but we encourage you to greatly exceed that when you can.
Of course, a healthy body is also a synonym with a healthy heart! Add cardio and strength training programs to your schedule and encourage your children to do the same! The important things are to choose a sport you enjoy, that showcases your talents and that makes you stay active at your own pace. If you’re not motivated to do it alone, find friends to join you! Everyone will benefit from staying active!
If you smoke, you’re probably aware of the effects of smoking on your health, but did you know that smoking is a factor that contributes to the buildup of plaque in your arteries, that it increases the risk of developing blood clots and it raises your blood pressure which makes your heart work harder? Therefore, smoking increases the risk of having a heart disease. Encouraging fact: less than one year after quitting, the risks of dying from a heart disease reduce by 50 %!
Increase your intake of vegetables and fruits
According to the Heart disease and Stroke Foundation, 70 % of Canadian children aged four to eight and 56,2 % of Canadian adults aged 12 and over do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. The minimum amount of servings recommended daily is five in order for the body to absorb the necessary amount of phytochemical substances present in fruits and vegetables that protect against a variety of diseases, including heart disease.
Keep your gums healthy
According to a Finnish study, men who suffered a heart attack showed a higher incidence of bacterial infection. Another study, done with a 100 people, shows that the dental health of people who have had a heart attack was somewhat worse than the people who had not. Even though we don’t yet understand why these two things are related, it’s still important to practice good dental hygiene in order to keep your mouth and gums healthy and to avoid developing heart problems.
Prevention is everything
One of the most important things to prevent heart disease is to keep an eye out for the signals your body is sending you, to have regular check-ups and to be aware of your family history that may affect your risks. We always say: better safe than sorry!