Lifestyle & Diet Changes to improve Heart Health
The heart is a tiny fist-sized organ located to the left of the chest, right behind the ribcage. It pumps blood to various arteries and veins, supplying the organs with nutrients and oxygen. Without the heart beating, we’d be dead in seconds. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 6 million people around the world live with heart failure and over half of this statistic will die in less than 5 years from the time of diagnosis.
+ Symptoms of Heart Disease
They can exist for years but suddenly get worse one day The best way to prevent and treat Heart Disease is to get diagnosed early for Heart Disease. Some common symptoms include –
1. Pain in the Chest
A brief period of pain or a tingling sensation in the chest. This may last for a few seconds to minutes
2. Stomach Pain and Acid Reflux
Although these two symptoms aren’t directly linked to heart attacks, most people who suffer from heart pain report them often. Besides stomach pain and acid reflux, you may also experience indigestion and nausea.
3. Irregular Heartbeat
Fluttering in the chest, shortness of breath, rapid changes in heart rhythm and slow heartbeat
Light-headedness, dizziness and fatigue
+ Diagnosing Heart Disease
Your doctor will prescribe a series of tests to identify your risk factors for developing heart disease. The medical history of your family will be taken into consideration along Blood Tests, X-Rays and Chest Scans. The most common tests done to Diagnose Heart Diseases are-
1. Stress tests
Stress tests raise the heart rate through exercise and monitor its beats per minute and other factors.
2. Electrocardiogram (ECG)
ECG tests help pinpoint irregularities in the heart and detect its rhythm by recording electrical signals sent.
This is a non-invasive test that produces detailed ultrasound scans of the whole body. It shows details about the heart’s function, structure, and performance
4. Cardiac Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan
CT Scan collects images of the heart and chest. It involves X-ray scans and is used for finding out any problems with the heart.
5. Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan
It’s an MRI scan but for the heart. It creates a magnetic resonance field inductive for imaging cardiovascular organs and renders those scans clearly so that the doctors can analyze and evaluate them.
+ Treating Heart Disease
As far as possible we must all make lifestyle changes and switch to a healthier diet to prevent Heart Disease before it takes a turn for the worst and requires Treatment. There are no quick fixes for improving heart health but in the worst-case scenario, these are the following heart disease treatment options:
If the heart is not beating properly, doctors may recommend surgery. A pacemaker may be implanted on the organ to help it beat faster.
There are many medications like blood clotting medications, blood thinners and cholesterol-reduction meds that may be prescribed by doctors. These depend on the patient’s condition and overall heart health.
+ 5 Foods that Improve Your Heart Health
There are many nutritious options for improving heart health. However, for those who want to make the most out of their diet, these are the Top 5 Foods for better Heart Health.
1. Leafy Green Vegetables
Options like Kale, spinach, collard greens, wheatgrass, cabbage, asparagus etc are good choices. These are high in vitamin K, dietary nitrates, fibre and help in promoting proper blood clotting.
2. Whole Grains and Millets
Whole grains like brown rice, oats, spelt flour, barley and millets such as foxtail millet, pearl millet, ragi etc are good for improving heart health. Since they are not refined, the brain stays intact and studies show that eating whole grains improve systolic blood pressure markers too.
3. Dark Chocolate
Who doesn’t love dark chocolate? It’s high in disease-fighting antioxidants, flavanoids and healthy fats. One chocolate bar a day that is about a 60g bar is good enough to get the benefits. However, don’t eat too much since dark chocolate has calories and overindulging in it may cause weight gain. In moderation, it’s perfectly fine and actually good for the heart.
There are many studies done on subjects who had eaten freeze-dried berries or added fresh berries to their diet. In most cases, improvements were noted in blood cholesterol markers by up to 11% along with a reduction in inflammation. Berries are high in several vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are good for the heart.
5. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like mackerel, tuna and cod liver are excellent foods that improve your heart health. They are high in Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA that the body cannot synthesize on its own. Eating fatty fish long-term improves serum blood cholesterol profiles, boosts cardiovascular health and prevents lifestyle health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and high blood pressure.
+ Ten Steps for Improving Your Heart Health Naturally
Food is a big component among lifestyle changes and there’s no denying that heart health can be improved naturally if given the effort and care.
1. Exercise Daily
Exercising releases feel-good endorphins and uplifts the mood. More movement is good for the body since it lubricates the joints, keeps the heart pumping, and boosts blood circulation.
2. Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is time-restricted eating where you eat within a short time period throughout the day and fast the rest of the time. It improves insulin production markers, cardiovascular health, and scientific studies are now talking about its various health benefits.
3. Cut out Sugars and Refined Carbs
Sugars, processed foods and refined carbs are the biggest contributors to poor heart health. LDL (“bad cholesterol”) markers go up because of the fillers and added ingredients in processed foods. They are referred to as junk foods because they are empty calories and bad for the heart. So cut them out.
4. Do HIIT Training
Incorporating HIIT training to your exercise regime 2 to 3 times a week is an effective way of boosting your heart health. Short bursts of high-intensity interval training give heart-healthy stress and make the organ pump more blood out.
5. Avoid smoking
Smoking damages the lungs and affects heart health long-term. It’s a good idea to avoid it completely and this also applies towards being exposed to sources of second-hand smoke as well.
6. Stop drinking
Alcohol and liquid drugs lead to the development of a condition called liver cirrhosis and also affect heart health. For those with a weak heart, it is advisable to stop drinking and eat healthier instead.
7. Try Natural Supplements
If your diet is clean, you are exercising every day and you’re feeling better already, you’re on the right track. But if you want to optimize results even further, adding supplements that boost heart health is not a bad idea. Consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before proceeding with this since there are many options and dosages out there in the market.
8. Go Swimming
Swimming is a fantastic type of aerobic exercise for the heart. Many reports say that swimming for just 30-40 minutes twice a week can reduce the risk of coronary artery disease in women by 30-40%!
9. Add more fruits and vegetables
When it comes to your diet, load up your plate with fruits and vegetables. Try to go heavy on the vegetables since they give fibre and leave you feeling fuller longer. 7 to 10 cups of vegetables every day should be your aim.
10. Incorporate Healthy Fats and Cut Salt
Fats are demonized but it’s not just the fats but your whole diet. Limit your sodium intake and when you reach out for fats, snack on healthy options.