The 7 things you need to know about heart health
St John WA wants to highlight the importance of heart health, and seven easy ways you can improve it.
1. Get moving. You’ve heard it before, but your heart is a muscle and, like any other muscle in the body, requires exercise to function properly. Any exercise is better than no exercise, so try going for a short walk after dinner, taking the stairs instead of the lift, and making it social to incentivise you more.
2. Stress less. This one is easier said than done but hear us out. Stress creates more than 1400 biochemical responses, including heightened blood pressure and increased heart rate. These responses can linger and increase in severity. So remember to take time to practise self-care, enjoy your hobbies, and find ways to unwind. Your physical and mental health will thank you.
3. Reduce your alcohol intake. Most people love a tiny tipple, and it’s easy for one drink to turn into more. But excessive drinking can affect more than just your liver. Drinking to excess can lead to conditions such as cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, and heart failure.
4. Choose the right fats. You’ve probably been told to cut out fat, but that doesn’t mean all fats. Omega-3 and omega 6 fats, which you can find in fish, nuts, and seeds, have amazing benefits. They help to reduce the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases your HDL (good) cholesterol in your arteries, reducing the risk of heart disease.
5. Limit sodium. Sodium (salt) is important as it helps to regulate the absorption of water and maintains correct hydration levels in the body. However too much salt causes the body to retain excess fluid, leading to high blood pressure which puts strain on the heart.
6. Avoid smoke. Stopping smoking and limiting your exposure to second-hand smoke can greatly improve your heart health. Tobacco smoke affects the heart in many ways by causing high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (narrowing and stiffening of arteries), arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), coronary heart disease, and heart attacks to name a few.
7. Eat a balanced diet. This means including plenty of fruit and vegetables. Not only do they fill you up and help to keep your whole body healthy, but many have anti-inflammatory properties that can further help maintain a healthy heart. Some great options include berries, apples, tomatoes, carrots, and garlic.
Maintaining a healthy heart can limit your risk of developing preventable heart diseases and conditions. It can also help you recover quicker if you happen to suffer a sudden cardiac arrest. St John is committed to providing community defibrillators across WA in order to help protect the communities we serve from death as a result of cardiac arrest. You can learn more here.