8 things that can affect the heart – and what to do with them
Author Ольга Кияница
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a number of factors can play an important role in the work of the cardiovascular system. As a result, lifestyle can change. The ANA identifies eight factors that can affect the heart, and give recommendations on what to do with them.
What you need to know: “Bad” LDL cholesterol can clog the arteries that feed the heart and brain, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. HDL “good” cholesterol can help eliminate bad, but only in a certain amount. Additional cholesterol from certain foods, such as meat, eggs and dairy products, is also ingested.
What to do: Take a blood test and find out the level of cholesterol. Then check with your doctor what changes may be required. Switching to a low-fat diet can help lower LDL cholesterol. Regular exercise can raise the level of good HDL.
2. Heart rate
What you need to know: The lower the heart rate (within reasonable limits), the better. Normally, most people have a heart rate at rest between 60 and 100 beats per minute. The indicator is negatively affected by stress, hormones and medications. Doing medical recommendations to reduce heart rate can help not only reduce the heart rate at rest, but also sometimes save lives. Studies have shown that a higher HR rate is associated with a higher risk of death, even among people who do not have traditional risk factors for heart disease.
What to do: Before you get out of bed, you need to check your heart rate at rest. Measurements are preferably carried out in the morning.
3. Cardiorespiratory fitness
What you need to know: Aerobic exercise can make the heart work harder, which will increase its stamina. Over the past three decades, many studies have shown that low cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. A high degree of preparation is associated with a lower risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and even some types of cancer.
What to do: The doctor can evaluate cardiovascular endurance and overall physical fitness. This is often done using the measurement of VO2 max, the maximum amount of oxygen a person can take during intense aerobic exercise.
To improve cardiorespiratory well-being, you can do a run or ride a bike. It is recommended to take a walk or turn on the music and start dancing. Any type of aerobic exercise that increases breathing and heart rate can increase your endurance. The only important thing is to perform them regularly. If there was no activity for some time, you should start slowly and gradually increase the load.
4. Blood pressure
What you need to know: High blood pressure or hypertension is often called the “silent killer,” because he usually has no obvious symptoms, and death occurs instantly. Nearly half of all adults in the US have high blood pressure, but many people are not aware of this. When not controlled, it is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.
What to do: You need to know your numbers and what they mean. High blood pressure is defined as reading 130 or higher for the upper number and 80 or higher for the lower number. It is necessary to take regular measurements to detect patterns and recognize when blood pressure rises.
5. Blood glucose level
What you need to know: The level of sugar in the blood can vary depending on the time of day, the food consumed and the time when it was eaten. Too high or too low a level can affect concentration, cause dizziness and damage vital organs. Diabetes develops when there is too much sugar in the blood, because the body either cannot produce enough insulin or cannot use it effectively.
What to do: Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity and lack of physical activity. Diet and exercise can reduce the chances of its development or slow down its progression. A low-fat diet that reduces the consumption of sweets, sugar and processed meat can help maintain a stable blood sugar level.
6. Waist circumference
What you need to know: Some experts believe that waist circumference is a better way to measure body fat than determining body mass index alone. Sometimes with a relatively low BMI, you can have a large waist, so people who have obesity in the abdomen, unlike the hips or elsewhere, are at greater risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. A large waist circumference is also associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The AHA recommends that adults measure BMI and waist circumference every year. A BMI may not be enough to diagnose obesity, especially in some minority groups.
What to do: You need to take an old-fashioned tape measure and wrap it around your waist, in a standing position.Place the tape measure just above the hips. Then exhale and record the measurement results. Men should strive to reach less than 100 cm, while women should keep the figure within 88 cm.
7. Heart rate
What you need to know: Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a feeling of trembling in the chest or irregular heartbeat. Without treatment, this pathology doubles the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases and increases the risk of stroke five times.
What to do: If you had to determine if you have general symptoms of AFib - including weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, or irregular heartbeat - you need to consult a doctor. Treatment depends on the underlying medical problem that can cause AFib. It is often based on medications and procedures that help restore a normal rhythm.
8. Family Predisposition
What you need to know: Familial, or genetic, predisposition is considered a “risk factor” according to recent cholesterol management recommendations. This means that if a parent, grandfather, or grandmother had a stroke, heart attack, or other type of heart disease, the information should be passed on to your doctor as soon as possible.
What to do: If there is no data on the complete medical history of relatives, you need to find those who know it. Details such as how many years someone has been when the disease first arose can be critical. Family history generally gives the doctor a more complete picture of the overall risk of cardiovascular disease in the future.
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