Take the road to a healthy heart!

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) describe all the diseases of the heart and circulation and include coronary heart disease (heart attacks), high blood pressure (hypertension), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), peripheral artery disease, rheumatic, congenital heart disease and heart failure. World Heart Day is celebrated on September 29th every year and the theme for this year is creating heart-healthy environments.

Fast facts:

  • Every year, an estimated 17 million people die of CVDs, particularly heart attacks and strokes
  • Control over tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol can help to avoid CVD.

Never ignore the symptoms of coronary heart disease:

Coronary heart diseases have two major symptoms: Heart attack and chest pain. An uncomfortable feeling similar to indigestion or heartburn, or heaviness in the chest occurs when coronary arteries become partially blocked. But when arteries become completely blocked, heart attack or myocardial infarction occurs. The discomfort is move severe and pain travels from the chest to arms, jaw, back, neck and abdomen. Nausea, light-headedness, breathlessness, sweating are other symptoms which might accompany chest pain.

Boost your cardiovascular fitness:

Getting regular physical activity can keep your heart healthy. According to the experts, moderate aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week is recommended for optimum heart health. We are listing out a few types of exercises which will improve the fitness of your heart and ward off any kind of CVD:

1. Brisk Walking: It is one of the best aerobic exercises for your heart. Walk at a fast pace to achieve a moderate intensity level to use large muscles in a continuous, rhythmical manner.

2. Climbing Stairs: This can be done at home, gym or on a stair machine. The aim is to reach between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate can be found out by subtracting your age from 220.

3. Running: To get started, begin with a brisk walk and add 1 to 2 minutes of running every 5 minutes of walking. A beneficial schedule is running less than 32 km per week in runs of 30 to 45 minutes over three or four days.

4. Bike Riding: Either a road bike or pedalling at home on a stationary bike is a low impact, easy on the joints exercise. Make sure that the position of the seat and pedals are properly adjusted to prevent any injury.

5. Swimming: Two and a half hours of swimming per week will give you all the aerobic heart health benefits you need. It raises your heart rate and the water provides multi-directional resistance that will improve your muscular strength. It is also beneficial for those with joint conditions.

6. Spinning on an Elliptical Training Machine: Found in most fitness centres, it gives you both an upper- and lower-body workout at once. The leg motion is similar to running and cycling and the rhythmic arm movements get blood flowing to your back and shoulder muscles.

7. Dancing: Dancing can range from high impact to low impact depending on your ability and preference but a good aerobic beat is about 120 to 135 beats per minute. Zumba is good form of aerobic dancing.

8. Water Aerobics: This offers heart-health benefits of a good aerobic exercise. Water exercises have been shown to improve the use of joints in people with arthritis without worsening symptoms.

9. Strength Training: Increasing muscle mass improves heart and lung function and averts heart disease and other conditions before they set in. Strength training helps people with heart disease to develop bodily strength and improve their endurance. It also helps in attaining long-lasting drop in blood pressure.

10. Circuit Training: This stretches the arteries and improves the elasticity for better cardiovascular fitness. Opting for minimal rest periods and alternating between upper and lower body exercises is the ideal way to get maximum results. For e.g., for every three minutes of cardio, do one strength training exercise.

Did you know?

According to a study, eating fruit every day can lower risk of heart disease by up to 40%. The researchers found that people with regular intake of fruits in their diet also had much lower blood pressure compared to the people who never ate fruit.

Sources:

  1. World Heart Organization. Accessed Sep 13, 2015.
  2. World Heart Federation. Accessed Sep 14, 2015.
  3. National Health Service. Accessed May 9, 2015.
  4. European Society of Cardiology. Accessed May 8, 2015.