February is Heart Health Month
What You Should Know About Heart Disease
Since it’s February, you may be thinking about sweetheart candy and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. Did you know that it is also a great time to think about your own heart? February is Heart Health Month!
It’s important to know the risk factors and signs of heart disease as it’s the leading cause of death for both men and women with 610,000 Americans dying from heart disease each year. Continue reading “Heart Health Month”
Stress is an inevitable part of life; Work, family, finances and relationships can all cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. While not all stress is bad for you, ongoing, chronic stress can negatively affect your heart.
How Does Stress Affect the Heart?
Stress that goes unmanaged can cause the following health conditions that also impact your heart health:
- High Blood Pressure: The surge of hormones produced when in a stressful situation increases your blood pressure by causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow. High blood pressure can lead to both coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease.
- Irregular Heart Rhythm: Irregular heart rhythms, also known as heart palpitations and arrhythmia, can result in feeling like your heart is skipping a beat, pounding or speeding up quickly. While it is not known exactly why stress can cause irregular heartbeats, the adrenaline caused by a surge in hormones is the most common reason.
- Damage to Arteries: Chronic stress causes direct aging of the arteries. According to recent research by Johns Hopkins Medical School, individuals who react to stress with anger and frustration has 20 times of arterial aging. Extensive damage to the arteries can cause elevated blood pressure and heart disease.
- Higher Cholesterol Levels: Studies show that mental stress can raise LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower HDL (good cholesterol). If stress is impacting the amount of HDL your body is producing, how effectively HDL cleans up additional LDL is also affected.
Tips to Manage Stress and Improve Heart Health
Here are some simple tips you can use to manage stress and keep your heart healthy:
- Keep a positive, realistic attitude when a stressful situation presents itself. You might not be in control of the situation, but you’re in control of how you respond.
- Start an exercise routine. The endorphins released during exercise can counteract the negative hormones released during stress.
- Spend time with the people you love. Laughing and being around positive people might undo the effects of stress on your body.
- Focus on getting an adequate amount of sleep so you can handle stressful situations better.
Do you have questions about your heart? Contact Pentucket Medical Cardiology at (888) 227-3762 to find out more about stress and heart health.
Eating fruits, vegetables and high-fiber foods is important for a variety of reasons, including keeping your heart healthy. Even though there’s no cure for preventing heart disease, eating a few of these foods every day can lower your risk of heart disease:
- Salmon – Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, have been proven to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Because of the low mercury count, salmon can be eaten several times a week.
- Almonds – Almonds lower your risk of cardiovascular disease for a variety of reasons. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, fiber and heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
- Red Wine – Cheers to a healthy heart! The catechins and resveratrol in red wine improve your good HDL and decrease your risk of heart disease.
- Brown Rice – High-food fibers, such as brown rice, are great for your heart. Brown rice also contains B-complex vitamins, niacin and magnesiums.
- Blueberries – Nutritionists suggest eating a serving of berries every day. For cardiovascular benefits, snack on blueberries, which include beta-carotene, anthocyanin, vitamin C, folate, calcium and potassium.
- Sweet Potato – Because of the beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E, sweet potatoes provide heart-healthy benefits. You can eat them as a side dish or stuff a sweet potato for a delicious entree!
- Dark Chocolate – Have a sweet tooth? A square of dark chocolate, which is 70 percent or more cocoa, contains resveratrol and lowers blood pressure.
- Beans – Just ½ cup of cooked beans daily lowers cholesterol because they contain heart-protective chemicals such as flavonoids.
Contact your physician for more information on keeping your heart healthy.
Looking for some heart healthy inspiration? This vegetable soup recipe is healthy, delicious and easy to make. Team this soup with some crisp winter apples or pears and you’re ready for company. You can also make a double batch and freeze half for another meal.
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin Olive Oil
- ½ pound leeks, trimmed, split in half lengthwise, and well rinsed
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- ½ pound carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 2 large celery ribs, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 2 tablespoons dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 2 tablespoons dried split peas, rinsed and picked over
- 2 tablespoons dried small white beans, rinsed and picked over
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 quarts fat-free, reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- One 14½-ounce can no-salt-added plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
- ¼ pound spinach touch stems discarded
- In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Thinly slice the leeks and add them to the pot along with the onion. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables wilt, about 5 minutes.
- Add the carrots, celery, lentils, peas, beans, thyme, pepper and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the tomatoes and continue to simmer, covered, for another 15 minutes, until the white beans are tender.
- Stir in the spinach and simmer, uncovered, until wilted, about 3 minutes.
- Ladle into soup bowls and serve.
Calories: 130 calories
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
Protein: 9 g
Carbohydrates: 21 g
Dietary Fiber: 5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 130 mg
Potassium: 120 mg
Source: Cleveland Clinic Healthy Heart Lifestyle Guide and Cookbook (© 2007 Broadway Books)
The heart is the strongest, most important muscle in your body. Though all men and women face the risk of developing heart diseases as they age, there are some ways to maintain a healthy heart for longer.
Cut Smoking Out of Your Life
The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke restricts the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs, causing the heart to supply extra oxygen. In addition, tobacco and nicotine include many chemicals that cause your blood vessels to tighten. Both increase the odds of a heart attack.
Start an Exercise Regimen
Exercising for 30 minutes a day will get your blood pumping and will drastically improve your heart health. It’s important to build your fitness routine around your personal needs. Don’t do cardio workouts that are too strenuous because it defeats the purpose of exercise.
Maintain a Healthy Diet and a Healthy Weight
Avoid saturated fat and trans fat, such as red meat, deep-fried foods and processed foods. Avoiding these foods will keep your weight down and reduce the amount of strain on your heart. The healthiest foods for your heart are fruits, vegetables, beans and fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Consume Alcohol in Moderation
Consuming alcohol in moderation is great for maintaining a healthy heart. Men can consume two drinks a day to protect their hearts, while women can consume one. Drinking more than the recommended amount can have the opposite effect on your heart.
Get Regular Screenings
Get regular screenings so you know what is going on with your body. Being informed on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels will allow you to take action before serious damage to your heart occurs.
Consult with your physician today for information on how to maintain a healthy heart.
Are eggs good or bad for the heart? People with a risk of heart disease may avoid eating eggs because of their saturated fat and cholesterol content. But did you know it is egg yolks that have the cholesterol and saturated fat? Egg whites are safe and a good source of protein.
Consider cooking methods when including eggs in your diet.
- Pan Frying with a light cooking spray
These are all healthy ways to cook your eggs without contributing to your daily amount of saturated fats. Avoid cooking methods that include using oils or dairy. In order to keep your sodium down remember to limit the amount of salt you add to your eggs, as the recommended daily amount is under one teaspoon.
Moderate exercise can improve your strength, flexibility, endurance and cardiovascular health. Even though any amount of exercise is beneficial to your health, experts recommend doing a minimum of 75 minutes of aerobic exercise per week for your heart to reap the rewards.
The following exercises improve the way your body uses oxygen and strengthen your heart:
- Interval Training – Combining short bursts of high-intensity exercise with longer periods of active recovery prevents heart disease, diabetes, promotes weight loss and efficiently improves fitness. So, if you focus on taking brisk walks, add one to two minutes of sprints for every five minutes of walking.
- Weight Training – Similar to interval training, weight training increases your heart rate during reps, then you recover in between sets. While machine exercises are helpful, using free weights engages your core and builds balance for extra benefits.
- Swimming – Swimming is a great, total-body, low-impact sport. Because so many muscles are involved in this total-body workout, the heart needs to work harder to fuel them. Other activities, such as rowing and cross-country skiing, provide similar cardiovascular benefits.
- Yoga – Yoga is a calming exercise that burns a lot of calories, lowers blood pressure and promotes heart health. It also strengthens your core.
- Stay active all day – Staying active all day when you have a desk job can be difficult. To combat the negative impact of sitting at a computer, try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day and run errands after work to make up for being sedentary.
What Exercises are Bad for your Heart?
There are very few exercises that are actually bad for your heart. However, those who are at risk for a heart attack should avoid any type of vigorous exercise that they haven’t trained for.
Some examples include:
- Running long-distance
- Swimming long-distance
- Shoveling snow for extended periods of time
- Biking more than 20 miles.
Consult your physician for information on keeping your heart healthy through exercise.