Heart Health

Heart health is defined as having a healthy heart and circulatory system.  Many things contribute to the overall health of your heart.  Everyday activities such as diet, exercise, mood, and environment can have a big impact on your heart health. Having an unhealthy heart puts you at risk for heart disease. Here are some helpful tips on improving the health of your heart. 

Heart-Healthy Foods

One of the biggest factors to maintaining a healthy heart and a healthy heart rate is diet. What you eat on a daily basis has a large effect on your heart and general health. According to a recent study published in the journal Circulation, eating a diet that is high in red meat will increase triglycerides in your body. Triglycerides are the main makeup of natural fats and oils and high concentrations of triglycerides in your blood can increase your risk of heart disease.

Replacing red meat in your diet with plant-based proteins such as nuts and seeds is a healthy alternative. Even cutting back your red meat consumption to once or twice a week can have a lasting positive impact. Plant-based proteins can lower levels of both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol.  

According to a recent article from the Cleveland Clinic the following heart-healthy foods should be a staple in everyone’s diet:  

Fish high in omega-3s (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and trout)

Healthy nuts such as almonds or walnuts

Berries with heart-healthy phytonutrients

Seeds such as flaxseeds and chia seeds

Oats

Legumes such as dried beans and lentils 

A 4-ounce glass of red wine occasionally for antioxidants and improved blood circulation

Soy 

Red, yellow and orange veggies (carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes, and acorn squash)

Green veggies

Fruits like oranges, cantaloupes, and papaya that are rich in beta-carotene

Dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa

Maintaining a Healthy Heart

You can keep your heart healthy with regular exercise. This will help you to maintain a healthy heart rate. When at rest a healthy heart rate should fall somewhere between 60-100 beats per minute. A low heart rate at rest generally implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. A high heart rate at rest can be a sign that your heart is having to work too hard to efficiently circulate your blood. 

Heart rate is measured by checking your pulse, which can be detected at your neck or wrist.  To measure at your neck you place your index and third fingers to the side of your windpipe.  To measure at your wrist you place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery located on the thumb side of your wrist. Once your fingers are correctly placed and you can feel your pulse, count the number of beats in a 15-second span. Once you have your 15-second number, multiply that number by four to calculate your total beats per minute.  

Factors that influence heart rate Include: 

Age

Fitness and activity levels 

Smoking 

Cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol or diabetes

Air temperature

Body position

Emotional state 

Body size

Medications 

There is a wide range of what can be considered a healthy heart rate for each individual person. An unusually high or low heart rate may indicate an underlying problem. If your heart rate is consistently below 60 and you’re not a trained athlete you should consult a physician. If your heart rate is regularly above 100 beats per minute at rest you should consult a physician. 

Heart Disease

Heart disease is a direct effect of poor heart health. As defined by the mayo clinic heart disease refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels which may lead to a heart attack, chest pain or stroke. 

Symptoms of heart disease vary from men to women, but generally include: 

Pain or tightness in the chest, pressure, and discomfort (angina) 

Shortness of breath

Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your extremities when blood vessels are narrowed in those parts of the body

Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back 

Other heart ailments such as an abnormal heartbeat, heart defects, a weak heart muscle, a heart infection or damaged heart valves can have similar symptoms as heart disease. Therefore, it is important to consult a physician if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. Additionally, if you are experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath or inexplicable fainting you should see a physician immediately. 

Heart disease is more manageable when detected early. If your family has a history of heart disease, it is especially important to monitor heart health and contact a medical professional if any symptoms occur. For an appointment about your heart health contact BASS Advanced Urgent Care in Walnut Creek today.