We are wont to think of love and emotions when referring to our heart. Feminists would even consider the heart as a woman, with duties that cut across different aspects of her home, though the heart in its entirety is much more than that.
Science tells us that the heart beats about 100,000 times each day, sending out about 2000 gallons of blood to different parts of the body and in an average lifetime, it would have beaten for approximately 2.5 billion times. Isn’t that amazing?
The human heart is a very busy and industrious part of the body and can be said to be a hyper pump, which produces rich oxygenated blood for the body and takes a break only at death.
It comprises two sides - the left and the right, which are made up of two chambers: Atrium, the smaller upper chamber, and Ventricle, the larger lower chamber that pumps.
In line with the features of the heart, studies have shown that there is a little difference in the heart of a woman and that of a man, though it performs the same function. A man’s heart weighs about 10 ounces and beats about 70times/minute, while a woman’s heart weighs about 8 ounces but beats about 78 times/minute.
As an organ with a tedious function, it is expected that proper care should be given to the heart in order to keep it from wearing out or contracting diseases that can be life-threatening, one of which includes a heart attack.
A heart attack often occurs as a result of a sudden blockage in the coronary artery, which will, in turn, block oxygen from getting to the heart. Studies show that the blockage is formed of plagues from the coronary artery that breaks out and causes blood clots in the artery.
Research shows that plaques are a buildup of cholesterol, white blood cells, calcium and other substances in the body. Where plaques become too much in the coronary artery, the coronary artery ruptures, a blood clot is formed in the artery, and that eventually leads to a heart attack.
Aside from a heart attack, there are several other heart diseases that could be life threatening, if not properly managed. Some of them include Coronary Artery Disease often caused by a blockage in the artery, Enlarged Heart often peculiar with people that are hypertensive, Heart attack, Arrhythmia, Atrial Fibrillation, Heart Valve Disease, Sudden Cardiac Death, Congenital Heart disease and much more.
The good news about this is that research has shown that a good percentage of these heart diseases, whether inherited or acquired, can be controlled by a healthy lifestyle. The heart does so much work for us and it is our responsibility to keep it healthy, at least if we want to stay alive. A healthy lifestyle comprises what you eat, drink or allow into your body system, your daily activities and your emotional stability.
Always note that a healthy heart is achievable and should be the goal of everyone, both old and young, because heart diseases are not peculiar to any age group. These points highlight useful tips to keeping your heart working well for you.
- Engage in exercise: An exercise as little as jogging or marching on a spot for 15minutes a day while watching your favourite T.V show will do a lot of wonders to your heart.
- Eat Healthily: Switch to heart friendly foods. Low cholesterol and sugar-free foods should be top of the chain for you. Eat foods that are low in saturated and trans fat such as boiled, roasted or baked chicken without the skin. Also, take lots of fresh vegetables and fruits in place of processed foods and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
- Take plenty of water: Make water your favorite beverage. A hydrated body helps with blood flow and assists your heart in its functions. Take a bottle of water wherever you go. That could also serve as a good exercise for your arms.
- Schedule yearly visits to the Doctor: It is advisable to always know the status of your heart and how your activities have improved its condition. The visit should include a check on your blood pressure, glucose levels, cholesterol and your heart.
- Quit unhealthy habit: Your heart is only concerned with how to keep you alive and not with fueling your desires. If you want a healthy heart, you will have to quit habits like smoking. You can stop by cutting the number of cigarettes you smoke by half on the first day, at day 3 cut the number again by half and at day 5 cut it again by half and choose a quit day (not more than a week). On your quit day, just quit. Do it for your heart.
- Cut down your salt intake and avoid foods that have sodium in high quantities. If you are not sure of the quantity of salt a food contains, it is safer to leave it for another.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Research shows that excess weight will highly increase a person’s chances of having a stroke, heart diseases, and diabetes. You can try reducing your calorie intake by 200-300 and engage in 30 minutes exercise on most days of the week, you will lose weight the painless way.
- Stay positive and happy: Too much worrying and anger could lead to a sudden cardiac attack and such can be very dangerous. Maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you go back to old habits that are not good for your health. Get up from where you left off and continue.