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Heart-Friendly Habits

Posted on October 25, 2019 | No Comments on Heart-Friendly Habits

Diabetes and heart disease can, unfortunately, go hand in hand. Coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis or the narrowing of arteries, and high blood pressure are among the heart conditions that persons with diabetes need to watch out for. Poor circulation of blood to the legs and feet is also a major concern.

According to the American Heart Association, persons with diabetes have two to four times higher risk of having heart disease. In fact, studies show that people with diabetes with no known heart ailment have the same risk of dying of heart disease as a non-diabetic who’s already had a heart attack. However, heart disease can be avoided. Below are habits that you can pick up to prevent or lower the risk of getting a heart-related problem, as well as keep diabetes at bay.

DO’s

Quit smoking. Smokers have twice the risk of heart attack compared to non-smokers. Couple this with the heart disease risk of a person with diabetes, and the danger doubles considerably. From the moment you stop smoking, the risk of having a heart attack will decrease. Kicking the habit also means you have more money to spend for other, healthier options.

Get regular exercise. The heart is a muscle and as such, it needs exercise to keep fit and be able to pump blood effectively. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate -hysical activity a day such as brisk walking, biking, swimming or dancing. Not only will exercise help keep the heart (and your entire body) healthy, it could also aid you in achieving the right weight and improve blood circulation. Ask your doc what exercise regimen is right for you.

Watch what you eat. Strive to eat a balanced diet every day. Choose the healthier options: oily fish (e.g., salmon and tuna), and lean cuts of meat (e.g., poultry without skin) for your protein needs; whole grains (e.g., brown rice, oats, wheat) instead of white bread or white rice for your daily dose of carbohydrates; and fresh fruits and vegetables as a substitute for your side dishes during meals. Avoid saturated fat found in deep fried foods, lard, butter, fatty beef and pork, and full-cream dairy products. Pick good fat sources such as olive oil, avocado and nuts instead. Remember to also cut back on salt because sodium, one of the main components of salt, may cause hypertension.

Limit your alcohol intake. A heart-friendly diet means reducing your alcohol intake to a maximum of two drinks per day for men and one drink a day for women (One drink = 12 oz of beer or wine cooler, 5 oz of wine, 1.5 oz of 80 proof distilled spirits such as gin, vodka or whiskey.). This moderate level may provide a protective effect on your heart because it stimulates the liver to produce the “good” high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and therefore balances the fats or lipids in the blood.

For some (e.g., people with liver disease, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, nerve damage, etc.) alcohol may be a health hazard. For those who don’t drink, don’t start the habit. And check your blood sugar as alcohol may cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

DON’Ts

Stress yourself out. Stress increases levels of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Stress can raise heart rate and speed up blood flow, thus raising blood pressure. Your body also releases fatty acids into the blood stream to provide energy during stressful times, which then increases triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Always make room for rest and relaxation in your schedule, even if it is just an hour of reading a book or playing with your loved ones.

Forget regular check-ups and meds. It is always so easy to skip check-ups, especially if you feel well. However, regular consultations with your doctor will help you monitor your progress with your current regimen. Doctors frequently prescribe medications such as aspirin, anti-cholesterol and blood pressure lowering drugs to help prevent heart ailments. Your doctor can also give you further tips or change your medication and diet should the need arise.

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