Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Little mistakes lead to big heart disease

Little mistakes lead to big heart disease
Little mistakes lead to big heart disease

Little mistakes you make over time can pile up to pose big challenges for your heart

Missing checkups
Many people who suffer from heart disease, don't show obvious symptoms. So it is best if, beginning at 20, you get full cholesterol checks done every five years, your blood pressure checked at least every two years and body mass index calculated at each visit to the doctor. Then, at age 45, set blood glucose checked every three years.

Forgetting your family history
To figure your risk for heart disease, you need to know if it runs in the family. You should be aware of what sicknesses your parents have or had, and learn about your grandparents' medical history. If they are no more, try to find out not only how they died, but at what age. Knowing their lifestyle habits can be helpful, too. Also, if your siblings have any signs of heart disease, especially at an early age, your risks may be higher.

Forgetting to floss
Dental health and heart health go together. In fact, research suggests that poor dental health and gingivitis can promote heart disease. The chronic inflammation that occurs in the lining of the gums sets up chronic inflammation through your body, and little bursts of bacteria may actually get into your bloodstream. People who brush and floss more often, not only have excellent dental hygiene, but are also at a lower risk of developing heart disease.

Not consuming enough dairy
In a recent study, doctors looked at more than 82,000 postmenopausal women followed for eight years and found that the women with the highest dairy intakes cut their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by 50 per cent compared with women with the lowest intakes of dairy products. So, if you've cut back on dairy products to save calories and reduce the fat in your diet, it is, perhaps, not the way to go.

Get some sunlight
Getting sunburned is not recommended for anyone. However, your body needs some sun exposure to help you maintain adequate levels of vitamin D, an essential vitamin that is manufactured in your skin in the presence of sunlight. A recent study found that people who had low levels of vitamin D were more likely to have plaque build-up in their blood vessels than those who had higher levels of the vitamin in their blood. Doctors advise you get as little as five to 30 minutes of sun exposure (without sunscreen), ideally between 10 am and 3 pm every day, to help your body manufacture adequate amounts of vitamin D.

Ignoring the beans
Black, kidney and other types of beans provide a great source of protein without saturated fat, and they're one of the best sources of soluble fibre, which is important in reducing cholesterol. Oatmeal and barley are other good sources of soluble fibre. They help sweep the cholesterol out of the blood vessels.

Stocking up on energy drinks
Energy and aerated drinks are the number one source of added sugar and responsible for raising the triglyceride levels in your blood. Triglycerides are a type of fat that can actually make your blood thicker. So, if you already have some cholesterol building up in your arteries, and then you're trying to push thicker blood through there, it's easy to see how problems occur. Switch to water, or squeeze a lemon, lime or other fruit to quench your thirst. Sugarcane juice is also a great energy booster.

Shaky sleep pattern
Whether you go to bed too late, wake up in the wee hours of the morning or toss and turn all night, if you don't get enough sleep, you may be harming your heart. A good night's rest promotes lower blood pressure and reduces the likelihood of irregular heartbeats. Those with good sleep habits are less likely to have heart failure and heart attacks. If you do have trouble sleeping — six to eight hours — see your doctor and get evaluated. Your doctor may help you determine if there's a medical reason for your poor sleep, such as restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea.

Avoiding a colourful diet
In addition to fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, fruits and vegetables are also rich in potassium. When it comes to managing blood pressure, increasing the potassium you consume in foods is just as important as reducing the sodium you consume. Potassium blunts the effects of sodium to help lower high blood pressure. Citrus fruits, bananas, potatoes, tomatoes and beans are all great sources of potassium. So also, white foods count. A recent study showed a 52 per cent decreased risk of stroke incidence for people who ate a high intake of white fruits and vegetables (like apples, pears, cucumbers and cauliflower).

Not walking enough
You'll be kind to your heart if you learn to walk short distances instead of taking the car. Park your car and walk into your bank, laundry or parlour. If you build up to 10,000 steps a day, that is equivalent to 45 minutes to an hour of exercise.

Being a multitasker
stress in your life, and consider reprioritising the things you're doing. Practising yoga, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises are excellent ways to reduce stress levels.

Saving up for the weekend
Many people skip alcohol during the week and guzzle it all over the weekend. But health experts say, it doesn't work that way. Higher quantities of alcohol can harm heart muscle, lead to heart failure and arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation, as well as potentially damage the liver. Too much alcohol has also been shown to raise levels of triglycerides in the blood. Drink only in moderation and spread it out over the course of the week. Drinking a small amount of alcohol may increase your levels of good cholesterol, says a recent study.

Avoiding company
Nurturing relationships with loved ones not only enhances your life, but also lengthens it. In a recent 13-year study of more than 3,000 people, researchers found that the loneliest women had a 76 per cent higher risk of coronary heart disease than those who said they were not lonesome. Loneliness was associated with lower levels of physical activity in both men and women; among women, it was also linked to smoking and being overweight.

Not going on your annual holiday
While we are already aware that vacations can help you de-stress, there's also evidence that not going on a long holiday may raise your risk of heart disease. In the 1990s, a 20-year study involving 750 women revealed that those who vacationed less than once every six years had a 50 to 100 per cent greater risk of heart attack compared with women who vacationed twice a year. So don't go through a guilt trip the next time you book an expensive ticket to an exotic destination.

Skipping your morning cup
People feel guilty for drinking coffee in the mornings, but it's loaded with antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation in the body, a risk factor for heart disease. It's not the caffeine in it that helps the heart, it's the antioxidants, so drinking a cup or two of either decaf or regular coffee may help lower your risk.

Trying to do too many things at once is one of the warning signs that you may not be dealing well with the stress in your life the right way. Other signs include working too much, rushing around and not getting much done, delaying things you need to do, talking very fast and eating to calm down. Chronic stress may cause increase in your heart rate and blood pressure, which could damage the walls of your arteries. Step back and look at the causes of heart disease.

Source: Times of India

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