“One Love! One Heart! Let’s get together and feel all right,” sang Bob Marley. But without a heart, one can forget about love or frankly — anything else. The good news is that if you manage to avoid certain mistakes and adopt a couple of simple rules you can keep your heart in mint condition for years. Love your heart and you will feel all right. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
You’re Not Making Muscle Health a Priority
“Not making muscle health a priority is a major issue for your health. Make sure that you treat your heart with the respect it deserves,” says Dr. Neerav Dilip Padliya, Ph.D., PMP, Vice President, Research for MYOS RENS Technology. If you don’t know which heart risk factors you have, ask your healthcare provider to conduct or request screening tests during regular visits.
Here are the key screening tests for monitoring cardiovascular health recommended by the American Heart Association:
Blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends checking your blood pressure during each regular healthcare visit or at least once per year if blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg.
Cholesterol. The recommendation is to check it every 4-6 years for normal-risk adults; more often if any you have elevated risk for heart disease and stroke.
Weight/Body Mass Index (BMI). The American Heart Association recommends checking both during your regular healthcare visit.
Waist circumference. The recommendation is to check it as needed to help evaluate cardiovascular risk if your BMI is greater than or equal to 25 kg/m2.
Blood glucose test. The American Heart Association recommends testing it at least every 3 years.
Discuss smoking, physical activity, diet. Each regular healthcare visit
“The most unhealthy heart habit is a sedentary lifestyle. With the COVID pandemic and everyone stuck at home, it has been hard to keep an active lifestyle for most people,” says Dr. Paris Sabo. “The best thing you can do for your heart is to keep it pumping by being active regularly. The best activity is walking to get your heart rate up. Try to walk outside if you can, a minimum of three days a week for 30 minutes each.”
“Do not smoke — it’s by far and away the biggest risk factor for coronary artery disease. It does not matter how good your cholesterol is or how far you can run if you smoke one pack per day,” says Christopher Drumm, MD. “Put the Newports down. A pack a day over 5 years costs around 12,000 dollars and many years of your life.”
According to Hopkins Medicine, “Heavy drinking is linked to a number of poor health outcomes, including heart conditions. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure or stroke. Excessive drinking can also contribute to cardiomyopathy, a disorder that affects the heart muscle.”
“Stress increases cortisol levels, a hormone that is pumped out in excess during times of stress,” says Leann Poston, MD. “Stress can also lead to avoiding exercise and enjoyable activities, unhealthy eating habits, insomnia, and abuse of drugs or alcohol. All of which further stress the heart.”
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“Heavy snoring can sound funny to your sleep partner, but the condition is no joke,” says Michigan Health. “Snoring is often the sign of a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, which raises the risk for diabetes, obesity, hypertension, stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.”
“Over time, high blood glucose from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels,” says the NIH. “The longer you have diabetes, the higher the chances that you will develop heart disease. People with diabetes tend to develop heart disease at a younger age than people without diabetes.”
“Obesity changes in the structure and function of the heart. It increases your risk of heart disease,” says Summit Medical Group. “The more you weigh, the more blood you have flowing through your body. The heart has to work harder to pump the extra blood.”
“One of the most common mistakes that people make is not consuming enough high-quality protein. Sufficient high-quality protein, or protein with leucine, in your diet, is integral to maintaining good cardiovascular health,” says Dr. Padliya. Some of the best examples of natural protein are eggs, almonds, chicken breast, cottage cheese, and greek yogurt. Some protein to avoid is sugary yogurt, fried meats, and protein bars.
“Muscle loss can also begin as early as 35-40 years old, so people should be cognizant of their muscle health, exercise, and good diet intake much earlier in life,” says Dr. Padliya.
According to Medical News Today, “People can prevent and minimize this loss by staying active. If they do not, it may contribute to poor health and well-being. Some past studies have suggested that people with cardiovascular disease who experience higher loss of muscle mass also have a higher risk of premature death.”
“People in their senior years should also be exceeding the daily recommended allowance since they are at greater risk of muscle atrophy or muscle loss which can result in an increased risk of injuries, leading to lessened vitality. According to a recent study, requirements change for people as they grow older so sticking to the general recommended allowance is not sufficient for those over the age of 70,” says Dr. Padliya. “That said, the majority of people 70+ don’t eat enough protein to even meet the general recommended daily allowance. It is recommended that a 40-50-year-old person should ingest .8 grams per kilogram of protein per day for optimal muscle health, but someone who is 70+ should really be over 1.2 grams per kilogram per day. The quality of protein makes a difference as well. You want to make sure the protein you consume has enough leucine as it is very important for building muscle, particularly in older people,” states Dr. Padliya.
“Many people avoid the egg yolks opting for the egg whites only as the seemingly “healthier’ option, but the majority of the essential nutrients for muscle health are found in the yolks. Egg yolks are a great source of protein. A major study released in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that consuming one egg including the yolk per day is safe for cardiovascular health, too,” says Dr. Padliya.
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“Salt is a common flavor enhancer that is in almost every food. Salt can cause problems such as increased blood pressure,” says Dr. Sabo. “When eating out, ask to leave the salt out of dishes, or when cooking at home use salt alternatives such as herbs and spices that are salt-free to flavor up your food. Always look at the sodium count on packaged foods to make sure that you’re not getting too much of the unhealthy flavor additives.”
“When it comes to heart disease, not following your doctor’s advice is the biggest mistake,” says Dr. Rashmi Byakodi. “Heart treatment goals fail due to poor adherence to the medication regimen. Be aware of the medications you are taking and its side effects.” As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.