A Healthy Heart is a Happy Heart

Today an article was published in The Mirror by Marina Gask, and it included a quote from me….Hope you enjoy reading it!

How to have a happy heart

Many of us don’t tend to get sensible about our heart health when we’re reasonably young and pretty fit, but this could be a serious mistake.

Experts say the things we do right the way through our lives can have a major impact on heart health, especially after the menopause.

Some people have a higher risk than others. If your family has a history of very high cholesterol, or if an immediate relative has died of heart disease – your mum or sister before the age of 65 or your dad or brother before 55 – you need to get checked out and stay monitored.

If there are other possible inherited heart diseases in your family, like if there has been a sudden death of a family member at a young age, you should have an ECG and heart scan. If there is Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes in your family, have a glucose test, as diabetes can be a high risk factor for heart disease.

Otherwise, if you’re in your 40s or older you can ask for a health check at your surgery – by the end of this year everyone over 40 will be invited to have one.

Senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation Ellen Mason says: “You will have your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and heart tested and your family health history will be discussed. Then your risk of having heart disease over the next 10 years will be estimated. This test will allow potential problems to be addressed before it’s too late.”

In the meantime, keep active, get your blood pressure checked, eat a healthy diet that’s low in cholesterol, saturated and trans fats, and keep your weight within a BMI of 20-25. Follow these tips to keep your ticker ticking over…

Keep active

We all know exercise is vital for a healthy heart. But a quick jog a couple of times a week is far from enough. According to the British Heart Foundation, being fully active means 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.

This could include brisk walking, cycling, or a Wii Fit session. Those 30 minutes can be broken up into smaller bouts, taking the stairs at work instead of the lift, or getting off your bus a stop early.

Ditch the bingeing

Avoid alcohol binges and drink in moderate amounts, so no more than two to three units a day. This will help keep your blood pressure down.

But you don’t have to cut booze out altogether. Recent studies show people who drink alcohol in moderation (about one drink a day or less) are 14-25% less likely to develop heart disease than those who drink no alcohol at all.

Have a pint

If you’re going to have a drink, make it beer. Moderate consumption can prevent atherosclerosis which narrows the arteries, which can ultimately cause the heart to stop.

Watch your salt intake

High blood pressure or not, we all need to watch our salt intake. A new study might have suggested that reducing salt intake is not 100% necessary but the fact remains it lurks highly in processed foods and it doesn’t hurt to reduce levels where you can. Ellen says: “Have no more than one teaspoon a day. It mounts up when you consider the salt that’s ‘hidden’ in food.”

Lower your blood pressure

Around the Mediterranean, the incidence of heart disease is much lower, and this is principally due to the use of olive oil instead of saturated cooking fats. What’s more, olive leaf extract, which has been  used since ancient times to lower blood pressure, has been found to be just as effective as other common medical treatments for hypertension.

Comvita’s Olive Leaf Complex capsules (90 for £28.99) are available from larger Boots stores and branches of Holland & Barrett.

Funny business

Laughter increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack. “What’s more it releases serotonin, the feel-good hormone so comedy is good for your health!” says Lynne Parker, executive producer of leading female comedy brand, Funny Women.

For more information, visit www.funnywomen.com.

Get on song

According to Heart Research UK, singing is good for the heart. It’s an aerobic activity which can increase oxygenation in the blood stream and gives your heart a workout.

Singing also reduces stress which has a further positive impact.

Be a nut job

Several studies have found that eating an ounce of nuts four or five times a week can reduce your risk of coronary artery disease by as much as 40%. Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts and peanuts are believed to reduce the risk of heart disease.

But, warns Ellen: “Nuts are loaded with calories so just remember to include nuts in your diet, rather than snacking on them all day.”

Get happy

People with a positive attitude appear to be at lower risk of heart disease. Take regular exercise to increase your supply of feel-good brain chemicals – endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Get plenty of sunlight and good quality sleep.

If none of that works, address the causes of your unhappiness. It’s a shame to waste your life thinking negative thoughts.

Get up, get down

For the many of us who spend our working day sitting at a desk, a European Heart Journal report is recommending that regular breaks are essential both for the waistline and heart health.

Even breaks as short as a minute – to stand up, move around or climb stairs – are of benefit, says a study.

Just say no

Cocaine can cause a heart attack even in someone with normal arteries, and it can happen the first or the 100th time you take it.

Ellen says: “Cocaine can cause a spasm of the arteries, which can cause chest pain that sees partygoers in A&E in increasing numbers.

“Even those who take it regularly can have heart attacks, and once the heart muscle is damaged, you can’t get it back to normal.”

Screen time

One out of two people have heart disease and don’t know. If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, have a family history of heart disease or are over 40 and are concerned about your heart health, book yourself a Cardio Pulse Wave Screening.

A quick test costs around £50 and detects hardened arteries and assesses your ‘heart age’. Contact Jo Tocher at www.yourhealthyheart. co.uk for screening in your area.

Read more: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/health-news/2011/06/06/how-to-have-a-happy-healthy-heart-115875-23182444/#ixzz1OWZoa91f

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