Why is the heart the most important organ of our body?
The human heart is a complex muscular organ that constantly pumps blood from birth till death. According to the Harvard Medical school, a heart beats beyond 2.5 billion times in an average human lifetime.
It assures that oxygen-rich blood reaches the rest of the tissues and organs. There are four chambers in our hearts, and each one has its own unique function. There are valves in the heart that regulate the flow of blood from one chamber to the other.
The heart is a part of the circulatory system, which also includes veins and arteries. These veins and arteries are like pipelines that help in transporting deoxygenated blood from throughout the body back to the heart, and blood rich in oxygen leaves the heart to be distributed to the other tissues and organs in the body.
How can you maintain heart health?
The key to a healthy heart is a balanced diet. In order to lead a fit and active life, you must ensure that what enters your system is good for it. First and foremost, you must make sure that your daily meals are nutritious and fiber-rich. Simple tips to eat healthily include:
- Whole grains over refined flour. You can do this by replacing refined flour with wholewheat flour, ragi, quinoa, bajra, jowar, oats, and other millet flours.
- Make sure that you consume lots of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Keep yourself away from deep-fried food and food which is excessively greasy. You can replace these items with grilled, roasted, and steamed alternatives instead.
- Avoid red meat consumption. Consume low-fat proteins instead. A good example of this would be enhancing the consumption of fish and reducing mutton consumption. You may also choose to consume more lentils, beans, peas, and eggs instead.
- Consuming a handful of walnuts and almonds is also good for your heart.
- If you already have high levels of cholesterol or any existent heart ailment, avoid having full-fat milk, cheese, and dairy cream. Instead, you can opt for skimmed milk, fat-free yogurt, cottage cheese, and tofu.
- Avoid eating processed food regularly. These may seem a quick and easy meal option but remember they can cause irreversible damage to your heart and stomach in the long run.
- Frozen food items contain a lot of preservatives, and they are high in saturated fats, sodium, and sugar. You must avoid regular consumption of frozen food as it increases blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Apart from making sure that you eat healthy, you must also ensure that you have fixed timings for your meals. It is also very important that you do not skip meals on a regular basis.
To keep your heart in good shape, you must make a physical activity you like a part of your daily routine. You can choose to walk for 30-45 minutes every day in the morning or evening, work out in the gym for at least 45 minutes or join a daily zumba or an aerobics class. Physical activity gets your heart pumping, and this strengthens the heart. Regular exercise will also keep weight in check.
Quit smoking and drink less alcohol
Smoking increases risk factors for heart diseases as:
- It raises bad cholesterol levels. Chain smokers are at high risk for heart failure
- Smoking also blocks the pulmonary artery, which is crucial for the circulatory system.
- Smoking cigarettes puts one at risk of increased blood pressure.
So cardiologists recommend that you should not smoke cigarettes and also stay away from passive smoking. Passive smoking is when you inhale smoke due to someone else smoking cigarettes in close contact.
Regular consumption of alcohol affects the heart. Individuals who drink regularly are at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
Regular binge drinking is directly associated with hypertension.
Those with existing heart conditions like arrhythmia must avoid regular alcohol consumption.
Some of us manage stress in unhealthy ways, which include overeating, binge drinking, and smoking. If you want to keep your heart healthy, avoid the aforementioned ways to deal with stress. Instead, you can try one or more of the following:
- Listen to music that soothes your nerves.
- Meditate for a few minutes each day.
- Whenever you feel overwhelmed, go out for a stroll.
- Limit your work or study hours and make sure that you have enough time to relax and rest on a regular basis.
- When you feel like binge eating under stressful situations, opt for healthier snacks instead. This could be having a handful of grapes or berries or even a few carrot or cucumber sticks.
- If you like swimming, dancing, or jogging, make sure you incorporate that activity into your daily routine to unwind and relax.
Adults need six to seven hours of quality sleep in order to stay healthy. Those who do not get enough sound sleep on a regular basis lie at a higher risk of hypertension, obesity, depression, and even heart attack. If you find that it is difficult for you to fall asleep and get the quality sleep you can try the techniques listed:
- Develop a sleep schedule and stick to it. This maintains your body clock and keeps your system stress-free.
- Keep your devices away from you when you are in bed.
- Make sure that your bedroom is dark and that noise levels are minimal. This will help you to fall asleep.
- Have your last meal at least one hour before bedtime. This assures that food in your stomach has had enough time to settle before you fall asleep.
Regular health checkups
It is important for all individuals, especially those above the age of 30, to get health screenings done annually. An annual health check-up is important because it helps healthcare workers to identify health issues that you may have right in its initiation before they become a major problem that may affect your day-to-day functioning. These health checkup packages include the following-
- Lipid profile test
- ECG (Resting)
- Cardiac Stress Test