How To Love Your Heart

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February is American heart month and so it is important we discuss how to love your heart.

I know, I know we normally think more of our heart’s love interests once February rolls around but I am sure our Valentine would appreciate it if we took our actual heart health a little more seriously.

Our heart is busy pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout our body day in and day out, how many of us actually give any thought to keeping our hearts healthy?

My guess?

Not many of us, unless we have experienced problems or witnessed family with heart disease, we don’t give the health of our hearts a second thought.

The sad fact is that heart disease remains the number 1 killer of both men and women in the United States and Canada.

When our grandson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, we soon learned that diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

This just gave us one more reason to learn how to keep our hearts as healthy as possible.

So let’s see what we can do to keep our hearts happily pumping.

Sleep

How To Love Your Heart - adequate sleep

Part of maintaining a healthy heart is ensuring we get a night’s sleep regularly.

At least 7 hours of sleep each night has been shown to reduce the amount of calcium build-up in our hearts.

Some people have a hard time sleeping and so I recommend these tips:

  • go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time each day
  • ensure the room is dark enough
  • a cool room is better for sleeping
  • limit screen time an hour or two before bed
  • abstain from caffeine drinks in the evening
  • limit alcohol consumption

Diet

A healthy well-balanced diet is an important element in keeping your heart healthy.How To Love Your Heart - Mediteranean Diet

In fact, the Mediterranean Diet is considered to be optimal for heart health.

This diet includes plenty of vegetables and fruit, olive oil, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, poultry and red wine in moderation.

It also limits saturated fats and allows no trans fats. Red meat is rarely if ever eaten and refined sugar and processed foods are avoided.

There are plenty of fantastic recipes so your palette will be content and your heart healthy.

Limit alcohol

The American Heart Association recommends that if you don’t drink, don’t start.

However, if you do indulge on occasion be sure to limit your intake to one drink for a woman and two drinks for a man.

Also, try to drink just before or with your evening meal.

Moderation is key.

Stop smoking

If you smoke, STOP. your heart and lungs will thank you for it.

Smoking dramatically increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Just a year after quitting you will have reduced your risk by as much as 50%.

Talk to your doctor about help available to help you quit smoking.

Daily exercise

How To Love Your Heart - dance

Ensuring daily exercise is important to heart health.

Lately, it seems the 10,000 step challenge seems quite popular.

Studies have shown that people who complete 10,000 steps a day have experienced some great health benefits.

Exercising just 30 minutes or more three times a week can help you lose weight, improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and improve blood glucose levels for diabetics.

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Head outside for a walk with a friend or crank up the music and dance to your favourite tunes.

Remember a good exercise is any movement that increases blood flow and increases your heart rate.

Socialize

How To Love Your Heart - laughter is the best medicine

We have all heard the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.”

Turns out there is a lot of truth to that.

When we laugh, there is a reduction in stress hormones and endorphins and T-cells are boosted.

If we have a good hearty belly laugh we can even get an ab workout.

So go ahead, get together with some friends and share a few laughs.

Decrease stress

Stress management is an important factor.

Learn what types of stress you have and take the time to learn effective ways of reducing or managing the stress in your life.

There are many relaxation techniques, meditation or yoga techniques available that are very effective.

Take the time to check them out and find something that works for you.

Can diabetes cause heart disease?

According to Diabetes Canada, people with diabetes may develop heart disease 15 years earlier than those without diabetes.

People with diabetes often have several high-risk factors such as:

  • high blood glucose (sugar) levels
  • being overweight (especially around the belly)
  • inactivity
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • people who smoke
  • have a family history of heart disease or stroke

Diabetic women are at an even greater risk than men of developing heart disease or stroke.

Signs of a heart attack?

It is important for everyone to know the symptoms of a heart attack and to understand what to do in the event of an emergency. You could save a life.

Symptoms

The common symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Chest discomfort, This could feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain, burning or heaviness
  • Sweating
  • Upper body discomfort. This could be neck, jaw, shoulders or back
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness

What to do

Thousands of Canadians and Americans die from heart attacks each year. Recognize the symptoms. Act quickly. The life you save could be your own.

  1. Call 911 to the emergency number for your area
  2. Stop all activity. Sit or lie down in whatever position is most comfortable
  3. Take your nitroglycerin if you have it (regular dosage)
  4. Take ASA (Aspirin) chew or swallow ASA if you are not allergic
  5. Rest and wait. Stay calm while waiting for help to arrive.
  6. Keep a list of your medications in your wallet and by phone. Emergency responders will want this information.

Final thoughts

In this article, we have learned about how to love your heart and why it is so important.

We have learned that by making certain lifestyle changes, we can improve our heart’s health and improve our odds of living a long, healthy and productive life.

By ensuring we get enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, stopping smoking, getting regular exercise, socializing and reducing stress we can help make our heart healthier.

We have also learned that having diabetes puts us at an increased risk of developing heart disease and/or stroke.

It is important to learn and recognize the signs or symptoms of a heart attack and to know what to do in an emergency.

Having a clear understanding of these could help you save a life, maybe even your own.

I am not in any way a medical practitioner, please do not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another healthcare provider. We only share our experiences. We are affiliates, this means that if you purchase something from a link or ad on this site we may receive a small commission. This in no way affects the price you pay.

What do you do to take care of your heart?

Do you know anyone who has been warned of heart disease but then got healthier by making the necessary lifestyle changes?

Please share your experiences in the comment section below.


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10 thoughts on “How To Love Your Heart”

  1. Hi Deborah. Thank you for this great post. I can’t express how important it is to share information about healthy style of life and how our habits can negatively affects our heart. Smoking, bed diet, lack of exercises its common for too many of us and we to often forget we are not living only for ourselves but also for our family and friends. Especially now when gyms are closed and we are spending much more time in home these reminders are crucial. Definitely I will share it with my friends, and hopefully it will help someone to change life at least for a bit.

    Reply
    • Thank you for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it. 

      You are so right, our habits, good or bad, affect our health. Our health does affect more than just ourselves and like it or not our children learn from our example. They follow what we do more than what we say.

      I agree this pandemic has us coupled up at home more than usual and since gyms are off-limits for the foreseeable future it is imperative we seek other ways to maintain our health. A simple walk outside can do wonders.

      I wish you all the best with making healthy choices for you and your family.

      Reply
  2. Our heart are so important to our body, in fact all our organs are! Your piece here is so helpful for people around the world and I hope more people can see this insightful article. I can’t stress this enough, I really do appreciate that you have included the symptoms as well as what to do when there is someone that is suffering from a heart attack. You have no idea how much will this save one person’s life! I didn’t know that people with diabetes are more prone to heart attack, I really do have to monitor my father in law in this! Health is important because even how rich you are, your money will never be able to buy this. 

    Diet, sleep and exercise are important factors to keep in mind to have a great health. I really do love that you have reminded me on this aspect because heart diseases are so scary and it’s better to prevent this deadly disease! Do you have any recommended exercises for elderly who have health issues? Something a little more tame but still helps them get their blood flowing and pumping. 

    Thank you for this article, it really can bring awareness to so many people around the world! Keep this up and I look forward to more of these! 

    Reply
    • Thanks, Joe, for taking the time to comment. I am so grateful you found my article helpful. You are correct that this topic concerns all of us wherever we may live. Heart disease is not limited to certain geographic regions although the unhealthy North-American diet certainly contributes to it. 

      Ensuring we get adequate sleep, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly are very important to help keep our hearts and other organs as healthy as possible.

      As for exercises for the elderly anything they do is helpful. They can go for a walk, if necessary they can use a cane or walker for stability if that is an issue. They can also do simple stretches while seated. Put on some older music and they can waltz around the living room. Exercise doesn’t have to be super strenuous, you just need to move your body.

      I hope this helps. Thanks again and take care.

      Reply
  3. Thank you for sharing this vital information about the #1 killer for men and women, heart disease. Heart health doesn’t seem to get as much attention as other things like cancer, but we should all be paying close attention to our heart. Thanks for the tips on how to improve heart health and also the steps to take when you think you may be experiencing a heart attack. 

    Reply
    • Thanks for dropping by Aly. I agree heart health doesn’t get the attention it should and it really does affect us ALL. We all need to pay closer attention to making heart-healthy choices in life. Knowing the symptoms and what do if you experience symptoms is so important. Thanks again and take care.

      Reply
  4. Thank you for providing this insightful layout, the Mediterranean diet is familiar to me but never really made the connection to it and heart health, quite interesting how socialization help in this particular instance as well. I appreciate the breakdown of the symptoms in such an easily understood manner. What to do is a must-have takeaway for me. Enjoyed this article. 

    Reply
    • Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I am glad you are familiar with the Mediterranean diet. You can easily find great recipes online and I recommend giving it a try. Yes, I was also surprised to learn that having a good hearty laugh with friends is good for your heart. Knowing the symptoms and what to do in an emergency is so important for everyone to know. I am grateful I could bring awareness to this important topic. Take care.

      Reply
  5. Thanks for the healthy (pun intended) reminder, Deborah.

    February is heart month for a reason, and it’s important to realize that we can do a lot to improve our heart condition. 

    I like how you describe all the ways we can help our hearts. Diabetes is right up there as well, and a huge health concern often attributed to diet. Diet and exercise, moderate use of alcohol, and sufficient rest and relaxation are all very well known in the world of health and fitness. 

    Learning to manage stress is gaining more exposure and needs to remain in the spotlight. No worthy argument can be made for “Smoking”. 

    Paul 

    Reply
    • Thanks for dropping by Paul. I agree that diabetes is a very real concern and diabetics are at a significantly heightened risk for heart disease and stroke.

      I also agree that with all the education out there about the dangers of smoking, there really is no excuse. There is absolutely no legitimate reason for anyone picking up that habit.

      Stress management is a big one, especially today with so many lockdowns, people losing jobs and just the pressures of having our normal schedules so dramatically interrupted. There really does need to be more information out there to help people learn to better manage stress (perhaps a future article).

      Thanks again and take care.

      Reply

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