5 things you can do to improve your heart health

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5 things you can do to improve your heart health

Considering how important the heart is to our health, we don’t seem to think about it too much. Some of us would much rather learn how to make a green smoothie or gets abs like a supermodel.

But seeing as February is Heart Research Month and cardiovascular disease kills one Australian every twelve minutes* (see, I told you it was important), we thought we’d share a few things you can do every day to prevent heart disease and keep your ticker in tip-top shape. Pass these five tips on to your friends and loved ones so we can help shrink that scary stat.

#1 Keep up your cardio

Exercise forces the heart to pump large amounts of blood and oxygen to the muscles so they can perform properly. The heart, arteries and blood vessels are elastic, and stretch as large volumes of blood pass through them. Since heart diseases are commonly caused by the narrowing of arteries or blockages, exercising regularly will help your heart become more efficient in pumping a larger volume of blood per beat, therefore lowering your risk of heart disease. “Inactive people have a resting heart rate of 80 and over, while active people can have resting heart rates of below 40, meaning the heart is having to work a lot less,” says Luke Horder, our resident Health and Fitness Expert.

#2 Avoid unhealthy eating

Eating foods containing refined sugars and carbohydrates increases your blood glucose levels, causing the pancreas to shoot insulin into the bloodstream. If the blood glucose becomes too high or the body can’t produce enough insulin, then that extra blood glucose is stored as a fat – which can result in weight gain. “Look for foods that have a low glycemic index, such as fruit and vegetables,” suggests Luke. “They’ll release blood glucose into the bloodstream at a slower rate and allow the body to maintain normal levels.”

#3 Quit smoking

It may seem like an obvious tip, but the effects smoking has on the heart are so serious, it had to be said. “Smoking damages blood vessels and restricts blood flow which could lead to heart disease,” says Luke. “The blood vessels show signs of repair after just 3-6 months of not smoking, and research shows that after 3-5 years, a smoker of any level can return to a non-smoker’s level.”

#4 Maintain a healthy weight

The recommended healthy weight range is a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18 – 25. If you’re sitting at a higher number, you’re carrying unnecessary weight. “Carrying this extra weight around all day causes your heart to work harder, ultimately reducing its lifespan,” explains Luke. “Just losing a few kilos, in a healthy way, can dramatically reduce the pressure placed on your heart.”

#5 Check in with your doctor

Ask your doctor to test your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose level. “If the results are not good, your doctor may prescribe medications to help blood flow,” says Luke. “In mild cases, your doctor may recommend a change in lifestyle behaviours or perhaps to start taking antioxidants for protection, such as CoQ10 Ubiquinol (like Blackmores CoQ10orSwisse Ultiboost Co-enzyme Q10).”

*heartfoundation.org.au

When was the last time you had a heart check? What do you do to keep your heart healthy?

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