Your lifestyle choices play a big part
in how healthy your heart is.
Here are five expert tips
especially for SA 60-plussers, courtesy of Clicks
On average, heart disease kills 225 South Africans every day, reports the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA). This is mainly the result of the arteries that supply the blood to your heart gradually narrowing from a build-up of fat, cholesterol and other substances (plaque), or being blocked completely when a blood clot forms.
Take the following steps now to help prevent heart disease:
1. Shed that excess weight
When you are obese you need more blood to supply oxygen and nutrients to your body. Your body will need more pressure to move this blood around – and high blood pressure is a common cause of heart attack. Follow a balanced, sustainable eating plan you can enjoy, preferably with a qualified dietitian to guide you.
2. Watch your fat distribution
Fat packed around your midriff is a special danger – the sort we’re susceptible to in middle age, especially women after menopause. In a 2019 study, those carrying ‘trunk fat’ were three times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those carrying fat mostly on their thighs. The good news is this fat can respond better to diet and exercise than fat on the hips, and exercise can help prevent it coming back.
3. Eat smart for your heart
The HSFSA advises a little animal protein, regular vegetable proteins (legumes, beans), low-fat dairy for calcium, whole grains, lots of vegetables and fruit, some unsaturated fat (avo, raw nuts) and omega 3 fatty acids to protect your heart (fatty fish such as salmon, pilchards and sardines twice or three times a week, flaxseeds and walnuts). Soluble fibre (oats, legumes, veggies, fruit) can be especially beneficial in lowering cholesterol.
4. Get moving
Aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes five times a week to manage your weight, relieve stress and boost your cardiovascular health. Benoni cardiologist Dr Nivarthi Maharaj suggests simply walking briskly or swimming laps. If possible, boost this with interval training – short bursts at high intensity. In the classic Harvard Nurses Study, women who exercised regularly were 30-40% less likely to develop heart disease.
5. Stub out smoking
If you still light up, even occasionally, know that there is no safe level. “Even those who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day may show signs of early cardiovascular disease,” says Professor Pamela Naidoo, chief executive of the HSFA. For help quitting, call the National Council Against Smoking Quitline, 011 720 3145 or visit their website.
Article by Clicks