Yesterday, the Valentine’s Day, was marked globally with all the fun.
For many people, it was the time to share affections. Of course, genuine affection flows from a healthy heart. Or, how can you have a place for someone in a heart that is barely able to sustain you?
The fact remains that only a healthy heart can guarantee a healthy body. If the heart is diseased, deformed or generally unstable, health-wise, there’s bound to be trouble with the entire body.
The human heart is where life is, as it is responsible for keeping every organ alive by pumping blood into every part of the body.
However, it is common knowledge that the heart can develop problems, many of which could be self-inflicted and, therefore, preventable.
What are the things that could jeopardise your heart health? These ones…
Some people are dirty in all material ways imaginable! Yet, experts warn that when you don’t wash your hands regularly, you can contact deadly infections.
General Practitioner, Dr. Daniel Ogunboyejo, says, “You must establish hygienic habits that can prevent viral or bacterial infections. Otherwise, you can put yourself at risk of heart infections, especially if you already have an underlying heart condition.”
Poor oral health
Poor dental health also may contribute to heart disease, the physician warns. He notes that though there are debates in academic circles as to how gum infections can affect the heart, he says gum disease is, by itself, a risk factor for coronary artery disease — a heart disease that is a direct result of plaque build-up in the coronary arteries.
Ogunboyejo explains, “Patients with certain heart conditions have a higher risk of the inflammation of the inner layer of the heart. It can be life threatening, as it happens when bacteria in the bloodstream attach to damaged heart valves or other damaged heart tissue.”
Obviously, you will do well to take care of your mouth by brushing regularly and also by taking time to see the dentist when need be.
Consultant cardiologist, Dr. Victor Adeleke, says stress takes a toll on the heart by increasing cortisol levels throughout the body.
“Cortisol is associated with the ‘flight-or-fight syndrome,’ leading to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.
“At high level in the body, cortisol can cause inflammation, leading to heart disease if it’s not well managed. We all experience stress, but managing it effectively will make for heart health,” Adeleke enthuses.
Adeleke says excess weight increases one’s risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. He counsels that eating foods rich in vegetables and fruit will help in keeping the weight in check, thus guaranteeing a better heart.
Experts warn that smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, including the heart, blood vessels, lungs, eyes, mouth, reproductive organs, bones, bladder, and digestive organs.
“Smoking damages the lining of the arteries, leading to a build-up of fatty material that ultimately narrows the artery. This can cause pain or discomfort in the chest. It can also lead to heart attack or a stroke,” Ogunboyejo counsels.
Experts add that the carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. And when the blood lacks enough oxygen, the heart slows down! You sure don’t want this.
A nutritionist, Dr. Remi Omotunde, says eating foods high in saturated fat, trans fat or cholesterol can lead to high blood cholesterol. To help keep your cholesterol levels down, eat foods low in saturated fat and trans fat, such as lean chicken, fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and whole grains.
Omotunde says even if your heart is very healthy, avoid poor food choices such as deep fried foods, butter, too much salt or sugar.
“Diet is an important part of your overall health. A diet high in saturated and trans fats raises blood cholesterol — a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Too much sodium can raise your blood pressure, while too much fat and sugar can lead to obesity. These two conditions can lead to heart disease,” he warns
Pregnancy and your heart
Consultant Gynaecologist, Dr. Dominic Emeka, says women who have high blood pressure or elevated sugars during pregnancy must monitor their heart regularly.
“This is because women with gestational hypertension have high blood pressure that develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. And some women with gestational hypertension eventually develop preeclampsia. Such women need to do regular screening in order to be safe,” he says.
Experts say heart disease can be genetic. In other words, you risk developing one if a close family member had it. Adeleke says if you have multiple risk factors for heart disease or a strong family history, get screened so as to determine your real risk of heart disease.
He adds, “Those with multiple risks for heart disease include those who have advanced in age, as ageing increases the risk of damaged and narrowed arteries and weakened or thickened heart muscle.”
More water, No alcohol
No one needs doctor’s prescription to drink water. Water has zero calories, it purifies and hydrates the body. It is an elixir of life. That’s not the same as alcohol.
“Regular or high alcohol use can hurt your heart and weaken the heart muscle. Binge drinking can also cause irregular heart rhythms,” Adeleke says.
The bottom line: It’s your heart. Treat it with respect.