8 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

HEALTH  |  September 29, 2016
  • 1. Laugh more
    1 / 8 1. Laugh more

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    Keep your heart healthy by training your funny bone. A study by the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore found that patients who had heart disease were less likely to recognise humour, and displayed more anger and hostility than their peers.

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  • 2. Be generous with sleep
    2 / 8 2. Be generous with sleep

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    According to research published in the European Heart Journal, a review of 15 medical studies involving nearly 475,000 people found than those who clocked less than six hours of sleep a night had a 48 per cent increased risk of developing or dying from coronary heart disease, and a 15 per cent great risk of developing or dying from stroke. Dr Kenneth Ng, cardiologist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, adds that this could be because of higher blood pressure and inflammation following a lack of sleep. He recommends getting at least six to eight hours of shuteye every night. 

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  • 3. Stay active
    3 / 8 3. Stay active

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    Dr Goh Ping Ping, medical director at the Singapore Heart Foundation recommends getting 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. It’s also important to aim for a mixture of aerobic and strength-training workouts. Dr Ng says that moderate intensity activities include brisk walking, dancing, tennis and gardening, among others. He adds that exercise helps to improve blood vessel function and reduce inflammation. This in turns helps to lower blood pressure, improve glucose metabolism and prevent cholesterol build-up in your arteries.

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  • 4. Say no to trans fat
    4 / 8 4. Say no to trans fat

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    “A heart healthy diet is low in sugar, salt and saturated fats,” says Dr Goh. She also advocates avoiding trans fats totally, and eating more lean meat, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables.

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  • 5. Stop smoking
    5 / 8 5. Stop smoking

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    According to Dr Ng, “Smoking causes an increase in blood pressure and inflammatory markers, and decreases the endothelial function of the blood vessels. All these will lead to more cholesterol deposition in the arteries.” But if you puff, it’s not too late to turn your health around. He adds that a person who stops smoking for 10 years brings his or her cardiovascular risk down to the level of a non-smoker.

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  • 6. Know your risks
    6 / 8 6. Know your risks

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    If you have an immediate family member who suffered from heart disease prematurely (below the age of 50 for men, and 60 for women), your risk of getting cardiovascular illnesses increases by two to three times, says Dr Ng. Schedule routine check-ups with your doctor to measure your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels so that you know where you stand, and can make lifestyle adjustments if necessary. Dr Goh recommends yearly screening for those above 40.

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  • 7. Have good work-life balance
    7 / 8 7. Have good work-life balance

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    Spending time with loved ones or doing activities you enjoy can keep your ticker strong and healthy as well, says Dr Goh, since doing so lowers stress levels.

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  • 8. Keep your heart rate low
    8 / 8 8. Keep your heart rate low

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    “Your heart rate is determined by a combination of your genetic makeup, physical fitness and emotional state,” says Dr Goh. “Most healthy people have heart rates of 60-80 beats per minute (bpm).”  One can lower their heart rate through regular exercise, relaxation and avoidance of stress and caffeine. It’s also normal for your heart rate to shoot up when you’re anxious or doing vigorous exercises, but a persistently fast heart rate could also point towards an underlying medical condition.

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