Heart Health

Heart Health. The heart beats about 2.5 billion times… | by Ndali | Aug, 2021

Human heart

The heart beats about 2.5 billion times over the average lifetime, pushing millions of gallons of blood to every part of the body. This steady flow carries with it oxygen, fuel, hormones, other compounds, and a host of essential cells. It also whisks away the waste products of metabolism. When the heart stops, essential functions fail, some almost instantly which may lead to death. The heart is working round the clock and so it must be kept in a healthy state at all times. Given the heart’s never-ending workload, it’s a wonder it performs so well, for so long, for so many people. But it can also fail, brought down by poor diet and lack of exercise, smoking, infection, unlucky genes, and more.

The number one cause of death among women and men is heart disease with Ischemic heart disease responsible for 16% of the world’s total deaths. When the heart doesn’t get the care it needs, serious problems can develop in the lining of the arteries, which then lead to plaque formation. Plaque is what leads to heart attacks and blockage of blood flow in the arteries. So it’s best to understand what conditions can affect the heart and the best way to take care of our heart.

The things that put you at higher risk for heart disease include:

  • High blood pressure.

We shall be discussing the two most common causes which are high blood pressure and high cholesterol level.

High Blood Pressure

When you have high blood pressure, also called hypertension, the force of blood against the walls of your arteries is high. Without treatment, high blood pressure can damage your arteries, heart, kidneys, and other organs. It can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure. It can also cause vision and memory loss, erectile dysfunction, fluid in the lungs, chest pain, circulatory problems, and several other conditions. The causes of high blood pressure vary from family history to underlying medical conditions to lifestyle habits, dietary habits and so on. But a normal blood pressure should fall between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg, with the systolic (the pressure when your heart pushes blood out) being the first value and diastolic (the pressure when your heart rests between beats) the second. A high blood pressure means a value of 140/90mmHg or higher (or an average of 135/85mmHg at home). So it is very essential to check your blood pressure at all times.

High cholesterol levels.

This is another leading cause of heart disease but first what is cholesterol and how can it be accumulated that would stand as a threat to the heart. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body makes and you also get from food. It allows your body to make vitamin D and certain hormones, including estrogen in women and testosterone in men, and helps with digestion. You may think all cholesterol is bad, but your body needs some to work right. There are two types of cholesterol you may have heard about: High-density lipoprotein (HDL), often called good cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), often called bad cholesterol.

Bad cholesterol can contribute to artery-clogging plaque. Good cholesterol, on the other hand, helps remove plaque. In the end, it helps protect you from getting heart disease. Having too much of the bad, or not enough of the good, can lead to heart disease. There are usually no symptoms of high cholesterol. That’s why it’s best to get your cholesterol levels checked through a blood test or home kits. That blood test will give you several numbers, including your total cholesterol, your levels of good and bad cholesterol, and triglycerides, which is a type of fat. Cholesterol levels vary by age and sex of a person, so it’s better to be well informed of the target level depending on your age range and sex.

So what do you then do to reduce your risk of heart diseases?

Simple lifestyle changes can help you avoid, or even slow down, heart-related problems. Making positive changes in one of the following areas can have one of the biggest impacts on your heart health when done alone or combined. They include:

  • losing weight/maintaining a healthy weight

In addition to incorporating more healthy habits into your life, eat a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains to help protect your heart. Aim to eat right, while minimizing consumption of dairy products, and meats. Avoid too much salt and sugars in your diet. Because fats can have a negative impact on your LDL or “bad” cholesterol, try to avoid saturated fats and trans fats. Eat foods rich in fibre both soluble and insoluble.

It may all seem difficult to adhere to but the main focus is a healthy heart which we must all strive towards. Regular checkups with the doctor should be done to keep track of the state of one’s heart because it is the most important organ in our body.

We hope you enjoyed today’s blog, make sure to share this with your friends so that they can learn about a healthy heart.

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Health Harvard

Mankato Clinic

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