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28-Sep-2014.By: Elsie Solomon - Osho


Adopting a healthy lifestyle is really no big deal except for those who struggle with a bit of discipline in respect to habits. The lifestyle we adopt affects our hearts positively or negatively. It is a fallacy to say “smoking for the first time yesterday has caused a heart problem for me”. This can only generate after continuous practise and not just one day’s occurrence, - this is not to encourage the smoking of cigarette, but the fact is, the smoke being inhaled into the lungs has turned out to be an enemy to his system. Every individual is a compilation of ill or good lifestyle habits.

It is never too late to redeem the heart from whatever shackle it has been in time past. It all starts from being able to discover the awful things done to the heart as a result of unhealthy lifestyle, which trigger the general break-down. Whether one likes it or not, a bad heart affects the entire body system.

A totality of an individual’s lifestyle is comprised of factors as - food habits, physical activities, environment, community, home and a couple of other direct factors. The various lifestyles we adopt as humans tell out who we are and who we will become. Some are adopted consciously while others are not. Some of the typical ones are- Smoking/second-hand smoking, alcohol drinking, poor dietary habit and behaviours, lack of physical activity, poor mental health etc.  

Everyone wants a healthy heart. Still, cardiovascular disease affects more than 1 in 3 adults in the Nigeria. The good news is that some simple, everyday habits can make a big difference in your ability to live a healthy lifestyle.

Habits that are lethal to the heart are often very pleasant and enjoyable. Most people don’t even know the damage they have exposed their hearts to until they are ravaged beyond repair. Here are some lifestyle activities that are risky for the heart -

Sedentary Lifestyle (Couch Potato) - Too many people today are living a sedentary lifestyle. You might be more familiar with the casual term of “couch potato.” People who live sedentary lives spend most of their time inactive, often sitting - usually in front of the TV, the computer, or a video console. A sedentary lifestyle leads to high blood pressure and excessive weight gain, among a number of other health conditions. In fact, this type of lifestyle is one of the leading factors known to damage the heart. Without exercise or physical activities, a person has no way to burn the fat calories that are consumed on a daily basis. High blood pressure alone is a very dangerous condition; it can lead to strokes and heart attacks.

The body needs exercise, not just to keep toned, but also to keep healthy. Without adequate exercise, you are more prone to most illnesses, from cancer to depression. Heart problems are often associated with a sedentary lifestyle, and even arthritis is thought to be related to lack of exercise

Leaving hostility and depression unchecked - Stress, hostility, or depression can take a toll on the heart. While everyone feels this way some of the time, these emotions can affect the hearts’ health. Research has it that-those likely to internalize stress are in greater danger; while laughter has medical benefits that can help such situations.

Drinking (too much) alcohol - Sure, studies suggest a small amount of alcohol may be good for your heart. Alas, too many over-imbibe. Excess alcohol is linked to a greater risk of high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, and heart failure. In addition, the extra calories can lead to weight gain, a threat to heart health. 

Overeating - Being overweight is a major risk factor for heart disease. Try to eat less, avoid oversize portions, and replace sugary drinks with water. Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Hochman also suggest cutting portion sizes for high-calorie carbohydrates (think refined pastas and breads) and watching out for foods labelled “low-fat,” which are often high in calories.

Eating red meat is another. Think of red meat as an occasional treat rather than the foundation of a daily diet. Red meat is high in saturated fat, and there’s also evidence that processed meat, such as bacon and hot dogs, increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer. For those who can’t part with the beef? Choose a lean cut of red meat and limit your intake. “People have to know that if you want a steak a few times a month, it’s OK,” Dr. Hochman says. “It’s what you’re eating three times a day that’s the issue. Be in it for the long haul. Eat a balanced diet.”

Avoiding fruits and vegetables? "The most heart-healthy diet is a plant-based diet," Dr. Ostfeld says. That means loading up on fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and protein, and keeping junk food to a minimum. In fact, new federal dietary guidelines recommend that half of each meal should be composed of fruits and vegetables. Research also has it recorded that people who eat more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day had about 20% lower risk of heart disease and stroke than people who ate less than three servings per day.

Are you a salty snacker? Know that the more salt consumed, the higher the blood pressure. This is a major risk factor for stroke, kidney failure, and heart attack. “Steer clear of packaged junk food, read the labels for sodium content, and stick to the outer portions of the supermarket, which is where the fruits, vegetables, and (unsalted) nuts are.

Being a health procrastinator- Check your numbers for cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. If these are elevated, you're at risk for silent killers like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. One thought: The lifetime risk of developing hypertension, or high blood pressure, for adults in their mid-50s is approximately 90%, even with those who never had a problem before. The general point is that just because you didn't have it at 24 doesn't mean you don't have it at 54.

Smoking or living with a smoker- of course you've heard it a million times before: Don't smoke! But it allows repeating. Smoking is a total disaster for the heart because it promotes blood clots, which can block blood flow to the heart, and contributes to plaque build up in the arteries. It's also a smart-time bomb aimed at everyone around you. Research made it known that, about 46,000 non-smokers who live with a smoker die from heart disease each year because of second-hand smoke at different parts of the world accordingly.

Stopping or skipping meds- Let's be truthful: Taking pills is hurting. And it's easy to forget your meds, especially when you start to feel fine. High blood pressure is called the silent killer because you don't feel it, "Saying you feel fine is not a justification for stopping these pills.

Ignoring physical symptoms- If you used to walk up three flights of stairs without a problem, but suddenly you're short of breath after one flight or have chest pressure, it's time to call your doctor—now. Never assume it's because you're out of shape. Doctors say "time is muscle," meaning the quicker you get treatment for possible trouble, the less likely you are to have permanent damage to your heart muscle. 

Assuming you're not at risk? Cardiovascular disease—including stroke, heart disease, and heart failure—claims more lives than any other illness, including cancer. "Don't assume you're not at risk," says Dr. Ostfeld. High blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight and smoking are all risk factors that should be kept in check.

Last Updated: 13-Jul-2017 10:09 AM





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