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Health-heartThis Valentine’s Day when you make a promise to cherish your significant other, take an oath to love and care for your heart too.

That heart disease affects only the elderly is a misconception. The truth is that heart disease can silently strike at any age, so listen to your heart and make a few amendments to your daily routine to ensure it stays healthy. Here’s what to do:

  • Maintain a healthy weight as excessive body weight throws everything out of kilter, especially blood pressure, cholestrol and sugar levels. Discipline and will power work better than expensive fad diets with temporary results.
  • Regular exercise keeps all the levels (cholesterol, sugar, etc) in check. Aim to take at least 10,000 steps daily; a 30-minute walk at least six times a week should do the trick but all kinds of activity helps, so get active.
  • Fibre lowers cholesterol levels and helps absorb fats, so make sure to add plenty to your diet in the form of grains and fruit; try going meatless a couple of days in the week.
  • Quit smoking, it has adverse affects for your heart and those around you too; smoking damages the walls of the arteries, raising blood pressure and heart rate. Cold turkey is the only way quit.
  • Stress is a major cause of heart disease; negative emotions, anger and work stress all lead to formation of plaque in the arteries and a subsequent thickening of the artery walls. Although it is easier said than done, control your anger and stay calm.
  • Research conducted at the Mayo Clinic has found that symptoms of sleep apnea, such as loud snoring and moments of suspended breathing, could lead to swings in blood pressure and oxygen levels which affect the heart. If you experience disturbed sleep, consult a doctor immediately.
  • Last but not least, get to know yourself and be aware of situations that trigger anger and wind you up; to calm your nerves and stay diverted take up a hobby and train yourself to see the lighter side of life and don’t take small things to heart.

– Dr Samia Babar
The writer is Director, Health Awareness Society.

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on February 17, 2013.

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