How to Maintain a Healthy Heart

by Guest Writer

While heart disease may be a leading cause of death, that doesn’t mean that you have to accept it as your fate, suggested the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. You can avoid heart problems down the road by adopting these healthy lifestyle suggestions:

1.  Don’t Smoke or Use Tobacco
Chemicals in tobacco damage your heart and blood vessels, which results in the narrowing of the arteries and impeding the flow of blood. Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces some of the oxygen in your blood, which increases blood pressure and heart rate by forcing the heart to work harder to supply oxygen.

2.  Exercise for 30 Minutes Most Days
Physical exercise helps to control your weight, and reduces your chance of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. In addition to programmed exercise, gardening, doing housework, taking the stairs, walking the dog, etc., can help you to keep fit.

3.  Eat a Healthy Diet
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish, and other low-fat sources of protein, help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Try to keep saturated fat to no more than 10% of your calories, and avoid trans fats. While following a heart- healthy diet, if consuming alcohol at all. it is important to drink in moderation. The AHA recommends an average of one or two drinks for men and one drink per day for women. Research suggests that the release of HDL which is “good” cholesterol, can be found in red whine, grapes or red grape juice.

4.  Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess weight increases your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. One way to determine if your weight is healthy is to measure your Body Mass Index (BMI), which considers your height and weight, and whether or not you have a healthy percentage of body fat. Men are considered overweight if their waist measurement is more than 40 inches. Women are considered overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches.

5.  Get Enough Healthy Sleep
Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.  Those who don’t get enough sleep are candidates for obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, and depression. If you have a chronic case of insomnia, ask your doctor as to whether or not you may have sleep apnea. Signs of this disorder include loud snoring, gasping for air as you breathe, waking during the night, waking with a headache, sore throat, or dry mouth, and memory and learning problems.

6.  Get a Regular Health Check-Up
A regular screening for blood pressure, blood, cholesterol level, diabetes, etc., can often nip a potential problem in the bud.  This can determine if your doctor requires additional testing. In a study in the British Medical Journal, which involved 26,018 people, Paolo Boffettta, M.D., and colleagues, determined that those with the lowest amount of vitamin D in their blood, who had a history of cardiovascular disease, had a 65% risk of dying from the disease. Research by Andrea Rossnoff, Ph.D., suggests that low levels of magnesium in the blood are related to high blood pressure, arterial plaque build-up, cholesterol levels, and hardening of the arteries.

According to the Mayo Clinic, omega-3 fatty acids in fish are unsaturated fats that may reduce inflammation in the body, which can lead to heart disease.  Although it was not covered in this study, many American get more omega-6 fatty acids from vegetables, in relation to their consumption of omega-3s.  There should be a healthy balance between the two. Low concentrations of beta-carotene–pro-vitamin A–in the blood may be associated with an increased risk of congestive heart failure, according to Jouni Kapp, M.D., University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio.



“Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease,” Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., Feb. 14, 2014.

“Vitamin D and Mortality: Meta-Analysis of Individual Participant Data from a Large Consortium of Cohort Studies from Europe and the United States,” British Medical Journal, June 2014.

Rosanoff, Andrea, Ph.D.  Nutritional Magnesium Association, Orange, CA, Jan. 2013.

“Omega-3 in Fish: How Eating Fish Helps Your Heart,” Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., Feb. 7, 2014.

Kapp, Jouni, M.D.  “Serum Beta-Carotene Concentrations and the Risk of Congestive Heart Failure in Men: A Population-Based Study,” International Journal of Cardiology, Oct. 3, 2013.

Related Posts