The heart is the central point of our being. It is the main organ in the body that supplies to other parts of the body. When it packs up, the body/being doesn’t function properly or again. Although we lack the power to change some risk factors — such as family history, sex or age — there are some key heart disease prevention steps we can take to keep our hearts healthy.
We have the power to reduce the cow foot/leg and ‘shakis’ (intestines) in our soups and stews. All these appealing ‘meat’ is full of saturated fat and comes chiefly from animal food products. Saturated fat tends to raise the level of cholesterol in the blood. It makes the food rich but in the long run, it is not very healthy for us. A pot belly is neither a sign of wealth nor good living. It is a sign of bad health manifesting through the waist line.
Bingeing on alcohol is not very good for the heart. Moderate consumption of alcohol has its benefits. It can raise your good cholesterol levels, reduce blood clot formation, and help prevent artery damage. Too much intake is a good recipe for disaster.
Too much salt in our diets is one of the leading culprits in fuelling the rise in coronary heart disease. We have the power to limit the salt we put in our home-cooked meals unlike fast foods and processed meals; so it is very advisable to reduce the intake of processed food and fast-foods (reducing it is also very healthy for our pockets).
You don’t have to be super-thin to reap the benefits of a smaller waistline, but carrying too much weight around the middle raises blood pressure, affects blood lipids (and not in a good way), and does other damage to the heart. Abdominal exercises are good, but remember: it’s calories in (what you eat) and calories out (how you exercise) that will make a difference.
Get active. The heart is a muscle and it needs exercise to keep fit so that it can pump blood efficiently round your body with each heartbeat. Getting active is not always about going to the gym. Your daily household chores can work for you as well. Cleaning, vacuuming and any physical activity can burn the calories.
Check your family history. If a close relative is at risk of developing coronary heart disease from smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lack of physical activity, obesity and diabetes, then you could be at risk too. Those of us who lost relatives through heart-related diseases are usually encouraged to be health-screened for cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes once in every 3-5 years.
By all means, manage your stress level. We all experience stress in our everyday lives, but if we allow it to get on top of us, we are heading for premature heart attack.
Recognise the early signs of coronary heart disease. If you feel tightness or discomfort in the chest, neck, arm or stomach which comes on when you extremely exert yourself but goes away after a period of rest may be a sign angina (when there is not enough blood flow to your heart muscle), which can lead to a heart attack if left untreated.