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Six strategies for building a strong heart at any age

Written by Fatimah Lesiguez, Registered Nurse and Wellness for Independence® Lead with integratedliving

Find out how to achieve a balanced heart and strong cardiovascular system with good heart care

What are the signs of a strong heart?

  • A healthy resting heart rate between 60-100 beats per minute
  • Normal blood pressure levels, ideally 120/80 or under
  • Adequate oxygen saturation levels in the bloodstream
  • Good cholesterol levels and low levels of triglycerides
  • High energy levels and stamina
  • Good oral health.
  • Healthy breathing.

What strategies can we use to build a strong heart at any age?

  1. Eat a heart-healthy diet. Eating more fruit and vegetables, avoid saturated fats, rich foods and be mindful of salt intake
  2. Spend more time being active. Engage in regular activity, even as simple as walking 30 minutes five times a week
  3. Control cholesterol and blood pressure
  4. Get regular heart health checks
  5. Quit smoking
  6. Maintain a healthy weight.

What are the signs that a heart isn’t strong?

  • Shortness of breath when active or when lying down
  • Fatigue and weakness, particularly in the chest, arms and legs
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat or palpitations
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Wheezing
  • A cough that doesn't go away or a cough that brings up white or pink mucus with spots of blood
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol levels
  • Very rapid weight gain from fluid build-up
  • Nausea and lack of appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness.

What is a balanced heart?

  • Medical definition: A balanced heart can refer to a healthy and well-functioning heart that is able to maintain a stable heart rate, blood pressure, and circulation. This typically requires a balanced diet, regular exercise, low stress levels, and appropriate medical intervention.
  • A balanced heart implies a state of optimal health, wellbeing, and a balance between different aspects of one's life.

How can we ensure we have a balanced heart?

  • Cultivate inner peace by practising mindfulness meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, or other relaxation techniques to help reduce stress.
  • Exercise regularly to keep your body healthy. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week.
  • Eat a balanced diet consisting of nutrient-dense, whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.
  • Get enough rest by ensuring you get enough sleep every night and take breaks when you need them.
  • Practice emotional regulation: work on developing strategies to manage your emotions effectively. This may include techniques like journalling, breathing meditations and mindfulness.
  • Engage in meaningful activities that bring you joy and purpose, such as spending time with loved ones, pursuing hobbies, volunteering, or working towards your goals.
  • Practice self-compassion and self-care to foster a positive relationship with yourself and nurture your heart.

What are three strategies for creating a balanced heart?

  1. Exercise regularly. Exercise is one of the most effective strategies for creating a balanced heart. Regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve cholesterol levels, and boost overall cardiovascular health. Our Wellness Centres are equipped with specialised HUR exercise machinery suited for seniors. 
  2. Eat a healthy diet. Eating a nutrient-dense diet can help maintain a healthy heart. Avoid processed foods, sugary beverages, and foods high in saturated and trans fats.
  3. Manage stress. Chronic stress can significantly impact heart health and increase the risk of heart disease. Strategies to help manage stress may include practising mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi, or engaging in relaxation techniques like massages, aromatherapy, or music therapy.

What is heart care?

Heart care is the management and treatment of all aspects of cardiovascular disease, including prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart-related conditions. It is designed to maintain or improve heart health and reduce the risk of complications. It is a multi-faceted approach to maintaining or improving cardiovascular health. By working collaboratively with healthcare professionals such as our allied health team and nurses, the care is tailored to client’s specific needs.

What does heart care look like?

Heart care can take many forms, and the treatment will depend on the individual's specific conditions and needs. However, some common components of heart care include:

  • Lifestyle changes. Making specific changes to an individual's lifestyle such as healthy eating, regular exercise, and weight management.
  • Prescribing medications that help to regulate cholesterol, blood pressure, and other factors associated with heart diseases.
  • Minimally invasive procedures. Cardiologists may use minimally invasive procedures such as stenting or angioplasty to help open up blocked heart arteries.
  • Complex surgeries. In more severe cases, cardiothoracic surgeons may perform complex surgeries such as heart valve replacement or bypass surgery.
  • Regular check-ups and tests. Regular follow-up care and check-ups with a cardiologist or other healthcare professionals to monitor heart function and diagnose any potential problems early.

What are three actions we can take to improve our heart care?

  1. Adopt healthy lifestyle habits. A healthy lifestyle is critical to maintaining good heart health. Individuals can take steps such as eating a healthy, balanced diet that is low in saturated and trans fats, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking. These lifestyle changes can help in reducing the risk of heart disease and its associated complications.
  2. Regular check-ups with a healthcare professional. Regular visits with healthcare professionals, such as a cardiologist or a primary care doctor, allow individuals to monitor their heart health more closely and detect any potential problems early. Specialists in heart care can design personalised care plans that are tailored to individual needs. These can help prevent heart-related complications from developing.
  3. Family medical history. Knowing and understanding your family's medical history can help individuals know if they are at risk for developing any heart diseases, and prompt them to make lifestyle changes, or seek medical advice to help reduce their risks. This knowledge can help healthcare professionals identify and treat any underlying medical conditions that could contribute to heart disease.

How can we check on our heart health regularly?

  • Talk to your GP and discuss factors and risks in developing heart disease. Consider discussing personal and family history, diet, lifestyle, medications, and other health problems such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol levels.
  • Get your blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis.
  • Manage your risk by working a plan with your General Practitioner and seek advice, information, and support to make heart-healthy changes. Did you know our Short-Term Restorative Care (STRC) program is available for rehabilitation or as an introduction to our healthcare services? 
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