Your heart, a powerhouse organ, performs a monumental task daily, pumping gallons of blood throughout your body. However, if this critical organ fails, it can lead to heart failure, a disorder that affects millions of people in the United States.
The heart’s function and the dangers of heart failure
Dr. David N. Smith, cardiologist at Premier Cardiovascular Care in Charlotte, North Carolina, and clinical assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine, emphasizes the heart’s primary activities, which include circulating blood to be oxygenated in the lungs and then delivering oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body.
However, when the heart weakens, even simple tasks become difficult. Dr. Keith C. Ferdinand , professor of medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine, believes that difficulty climbing stairs or carrying groceries could indicate underlying heart trouble. Proactive measures become critical as worrying statistics indicate a 46 percent increase in heart failure cases by 2030.
Strategies to protect your heart health
Understanding the risk factors and applying preventative actions could lower the likelihood of heart failure dramatically. Here are four critical lifestyle changes to consider:
1. Keep blood pressure in check
High blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and failure, causes arteries to become thicker and stiffer, disrupting blood circulation and putting strain on the heart. Dr. Ferdinand emphasizes the need to maintain normal blood pressure levels through exercise, nutritous diet, getting good sleep, limiting alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking.
Regular monitoring at home with your doctor’s guidance aids in tracking progress and adjusting treatments accordingly.
2. Effective stress management
Persistent stress raises stress hormones while also tightening blood arteries and increasing heart rate. Medical director of the Heart Transplant Service at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center Dr. David Majure underlines the significant influence of stress on heart health. Dr. Thea Gallagher, a psychologist and clinical associate professor at NYU Langone Health, recommends stress-relieving activities, breathing exercises, and mindfulness practices to restore mental equilibrium.
3. Adopt heart-healthy eating patterns
Simple dietary changes can have a big impact. According to Dr. Smith, reducing sodium intake and boosting potassium-rich foods like lentils and bananas counterbalances fluid retention and regulates blood pressure. In addition, eating omega-3-rich meals promotes heart health by lowering blood pressure and inflammation.
4. Make physical activity a priority
Most days, spend 30 to 40 minutes doing fun, moderate-intensity workouts like walking, cycling, or dancing. Dr. Ferdinand encourages frequent exercise to increase circulation, improve heart efficiency, and control stress, all of which contribute to decreased blood pressure and stable cholesterol levels.
A holistic approach to heart health
While certain risk factors are uncontrollable, making some simple lifestyle changes improves heart health dramatically. Remember, it’s never too late to start these heart-healthy habits. You are investing in a healthy future by proactively caring for your heart.