Heart Health: Take Care of Your Heart This February

During February, we’ll all notice an increased focus on hearts. With many placing the emphasis on love hearts for Valentine’s Day, we’re reminded of the importance of heart health, too. So, for us as leading healthcare experts, there’s no better time to discuss why heart health, exercise, and eating well, are crucial all year round.

Why is heart health so important? 

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death around the world, with over 80% attributed to heart attack and stroke. In the UK alone, cardiovascular disease is one of the biggest killers.  

Here we’ll run through some common heart conditions, as well as the simple ways to keep your heart healthy, including lifestyle adaptations and nutrition.  

Common heart conditions 

Did you know? There are many different heart conditions and problems which are collectively called heart disease. Expert experience highlights the commonality of heart conditions. These are: 

  • Coronary heart disease 
  • Unstable angina 
  • Heart attack 
  • Heart failure 
  • Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms 
  • Valve disease  
  • High blood pressure 
  • Congenital heart conditions 
  • Inherited heart conditions.

 

Heart healthy movements 

A series of small changes can have a greater impact than we often might think. Being active is a key factor in managing your cholesterol levels. It can: 

  • Raise your HDL cholesterol levels, the good cholesterol which removes fat from your arteries  
  • Lower your LDL cholesterol, the type of cholesterol that gets laid down in your arteries  
  • Help you to lose weight or stay a healthy weight  
  • Help you lose fat from around your middle, which is important for heart health  
  • Lower your blood pressure 
  • Lower and control the risk of Type 2 diabetes.  

 

Exercise 

Research suggests that 30 minutes of exercise, five times per week, can noticeably improve your health. Walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and dancing are all good activities to start with. Start small and build your way up.

Meditation 

Meditation helps in lowering blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. In a recent study, from the University of Iowa, scientists found that practising this type of meditation for 20 minutes per day was all it took to make a difference. Other types of deep breathing exercises and yoga breathing are also thought to have similar benefits. 

Nurturing your heart  

Taking care of your body starts from the inside. Different nutritious foods can help to decrease inflammation in the arteries and protect the heart. Look out for foods with the following vitamins and minerals

Omega-3:  Omega-3 fatty acids can be sourced from fish, algae, nuts and seeds. One serving of Omega-3 is generally recommended per day, as it plays an important role in heart health, brain health and exercise recovery.

Vitamin K:  Leafy green vegetables are high in vitamin K, which has been credited with improving arterial function, and reducing blood pressure.

Calcium:  Eating calcium rich foods like dairy, tofu, leafy greens and tahini, can help to lower blood pressure and regulate the heart muscle.

Magnesium:  Working to help the body absorb calcium, magnesium helps muscles relax, while calcium helps them contract. This important combination of the two helps the heart muscle function properly.

Vitamin C:  Found in citrus fruits, vitamin C is an antioxidant that repairs damaged tissue and boosts collagen. It plays a role in the body’s production of L-carnitine, a compound critical to heart health. 

Vitamin B:  B vitamins have been found to protect the heart by keeping levels of “homocysteine” low. This is an amino acid that can damage the inner lining of arteriesm and promote the formation of blood clots. Liver and sweet potato are two sources of this important vitamin.

Less salt:  Habitual salt use can increase the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease by increasing blood pressure. Reducing your salt intake can help to decrease blood pressure. Try seasoning foods with herbs and spices, rather than reaching for the salt.
 

Slow and small changes can help us in a big way. Why not use this month to start making small changes, with a goal of feeling the difference this time next year?
 

How can our experts help? 

Teladoc Health UK provides a range of fully integrated virtual care services, including a 24/7 GP service, Mental Health, Expert Second Medical Opinion, and Nutritional & Fitness advice – all without the need to leave home. 

For information on our supporting services, browse the links below:

Get in touch today 

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