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Have a healthy heart this Valentines
Published on 14 February 2017 by Katherine Fu , updated on 02 May 2017
It's Valentine’s Day and we thought it would be a good time to focus on heart health and provide some interesting tips.
1. Get moving! Sitting is the new smoking. It has been shown that being sedentary increases your risk of developing heart disease, obesity, diabetes, some types of cancer, other diseases, and premature death. Many studies have shown that sedentary behaviour i.e. sitting, watching TV, reading the newspaper, computer work for prolonged periods of time can predispose you to this, even if you exercise regularly! The key is to stand up and walk around regularly after sitting for a period of time. Fidgeting, on the other hand whilst sitting also prevents risk. So feel free to fidget!
You burn 30% more calories when you’re standing than when you’re sitting. Latest research has shown that in order to combat the risks of prolonged sitting, you need to do 60-75 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per day. The guidelines currently suggest 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise. This is in addition to strength exercises on two or more days a week that works on all the major muscles in the body.
2. Try and alleviate stress as this can cause broken heart syndrome. This is a condition which can present suddenly and mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. It causes chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, fainting and sometimes death. It is brought on normally by stress – emotional or physical and is more common in post-menopausal women.
3. Erectile dysfunction can be a warning sign that you may develop heart disease in the future! Atherosclerosis is when cholesterol deposits and ‘clogs up’ the lining of arteries. If the artery is more blocked than normal, less blood can flow through them. Atherosclerosis can cause ED in up to 50-60% of men over 60 years of age.
4. Electronic cigarettes are not HARMLESS! E-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is known to damage arteries and in turn cause heart disease. It can also increase heart rate and blood pressure.
5. Cut down on salt! Salt contains sodium which can cause high blood pressure. Adults should be eating less than 6 grams of salt a day – this is the equivalent of one teaspoon. This 6g includes all the salt that is already contained in ready made foods and the salt that you add whilst cooking. Below is a table taken from the British Heart Foundation regarding recommended salt intake in relation to age: