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5 WAYS TO BETTER HEART HEALTH

There is a time for you to knock off from work but your heart is working round the clock without a rest. As one of the most essential organs for our body to function, it is important for you to tune in to your heart health regularly. Read on to find out how you can guard yourself against cardiovascular disease and embark on a heart-healthy lifestyle.

28 Sep 2020

Heart Diseases and Their Symptoms


In Singapore, heart attack is listed as the second killer after cancer and it often occurs when the blood flow to part of the heart is being blocked, causing the heart muscles to receive a poor supply of oxygen. During a heart attack, people will either experience chest pain or have no symptoms at all.


Apart from the heart attack, there are different types of heart diseases such as heart failure – a condition that occurs due to a weakened or “stiff heart”, hypertensive heart disease which occurs due to high blood pressure over a long period of time, and Cerebrovascular disease which is a group of conditions that can lead to stroke or brain haemorrhage as the blood vessels and blood supply to the brain is affected.



Dr. Gerard Leong from Gerard Leong Cardiology Clinic shared that the most common symptoms of heart diseases include dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue, and discomfort. He also added that each symptom may be common, non-specific, and episodic but if you have experienced at least two of the symptoms together or recurrently, you should be cautious and consult a doctor immediately.


Your Diet Matters


A 2018 Nielsen survey conducted in Singapore shows that 76 percent of the respondents preferred to patronise fast-food outlets.


Though it's loved for its convenience, Health Xchange stated that frequent consumption of fast food high in calories, trans fat, and sodium can increase our risk of dying from coronary heart disease by 20 percent.


To have a healthier heart, it is recommended to significantly lower the fat content in your diet by adopting low-fat cooking methods such as stir-frying, boiling, and steaming. Consume more fruits and vegetables high in fibre as they can lower the blood pressure and cholesterol which helps in preventing heart disease.



Choose plain water, plain tea, or coffee over highly sweetened or flavoured drinks as overconsumption of sugary beverages can lead to obesity as well as high blood pressure which are pathological pathways to heart disease.


Maintain An Active Lifestyle


It is hard to be active with long sedentary working hours.


But it is always important to keep to your fitness routine even on busy days as a lack of exercise can cause heart failure symptoms such as breathlessness on exertion and muscle tiredness when the blood circulation to the limbs’ muscles decreases due to low activity level.


By carrying out 30 minutes of physical activities which include brisk walking, aerobic dancing, and swimming for at least 5 times a week, it helps in reducing your blood sugar levels and the risk of getting a heart attack as well as increase the level of good cholesterol in our body.


In addition, the Singapore Heart Foundation also shared that a physically active person is approximately 1.5 times less likely to develop heart disease and 30 to 50 percent less likely to be hypertensive.


Get Sufficient Sleep At Night


If you have been staying up late, it is time to hit the sheets earlier tonight as sleep deprivation can significantly impact our heart. When you are lacking sleep, you will have minimal control over your impulses and this can lead to high body mass index and obesity due to overconsumption of unhealthy food. After a long period of sleep deprivation, illnesses such as type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases will start to surface subsequently.


It is also recommended for most people to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night and to improve on the sleep quality, avoid consuming excess caffeine before bed and keep away the electronic devices as they emit blue light which can keep users bright-eyed and awake.



Try sipping on a cup of warm chamomile tea or milk and carry out soothing activities such as reading, meditating, or taking a hot shower to calm your mind and relax your body for bedtime.


Unwind The Right Way


Though stress is part and parcel of life, being overly stressed can cause one to develop habits such as smoking and overeating, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.


Smoking is a major cardiovascular risk factor due to the poisonous effects of the chemicals contained in tobacco. Obesity caused by overeating can also increase one’s risk of getting a heart attack by three times, as compared to someone within the healthy weight range.



Combat your stress by meditating or by carrying out some deep breathing exercises. Having a neck massage or a Yoga session is another great way to whisk away the stress and negativity.


Go For Regular Heart Screening


The symptoms of a heart disease may either be obvious or unclear thus it might be too late to seek medical attention when the disease strikes. Hence, Dr. Lim Choon Pin – a cardiologist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, advises one to go for regular heart screening as it is an effective way to identify hidden heart risks early.


By going for regular heart screening, you will also be able to have a better understanding of your heart condition and prevent heart diseases by managing the risk factors before any complications arise.


At the end of the day, no matter how efficient a machine is, if it goes without maintenance, it will eventually stop functioning and this is the same for our heart. Our heart has been working throughout the years to help us carry out daily activities and it is our duty to take care of it so that we can accomplish more things in life with a healthier body. With a healthy heart, the beat goes on!


REFERENCES:


1. Singapore Heart Foundation. 2020. Risk Factors - Singapore Heart Foundation. [online] Available at: https://www.myheart.org.sg/my-heart/preventions-risks/risk-factors/


2. Singapore Heart Foundation. 2020. Stress Management - Singapore Heart Foundation. [online] Available at: https://www.myheart.org.sg/healthy-living/stress-management/


3. Lim, J. and Rong Wei, N., 2019. The Big Read: Through Thick And Thin (Waistlines) — Singaporeans’ Enduring Love Affair With Fast Food. [online] CNA. Available at: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-love-affair-fast-food-shake-shack-a-w-mcdonalds-kfc-11611608#:~:text=The%20Nielsen%20survey%20conducted%20in,fits%20into%20their%20busy%20lifestyle.


4. Healthxchange.sg. 2016. [online] Available at: https://www.healthxchange.sg/Pages/CatalogItem-Health-Sections.aspx?TermStoreId=150d80a0-5d76-4adb-8a10-0d293618625b&TermSetId=af57dbb9-fbb1-4981-9862-b3026b035d3b&TermId=15d82230-0746-4f82-81c8-c1c7028bd19e&UrlSuffix=fast-food-loving-younger-chinese-singaporeans-higher-risk-heart-disease


5. Healthxchange.sg. 2016. Heart Disease: 5 Tips To Reduce Your Risk. [online] Available at: https://www.healthxchange.sg/heart-lungs/heart-disease/heart-disease-tips-reduce-risk


6. Harvard Health. 2014. Eat More Fiber-Rich Foods To Foster Heart Health - Harvard Health. [online] Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/eat-more-fiber-rich-foods-to-foster-heart-health


7. Harvard Health. 2017. The Sweet Danger Of Sugar - Harvard Health. [online] Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar


8. Singapore Heart Foundation. n.d. Get Active - Singapore Heart Foundation. [online] Available at: https://www.myheart.org.sg/healthy-living/get-active/#:~:text=In%20addition%2C%20it%20helps%20us,less%20likely%20to%20be%20hypertensive.


9. Healthhub. n.d. Heart Failure - Having Regular Exercise. [online] Available at: https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/diseases-and-conditions/715/Heart-Failure-Having-Regular-Exercise


10. Singapore Heart Foundation. n.d. Sleep & Heart Disease - Singapore Heart Foundation. [online] Available at: https://www.myheart.org.sg/press-and-media/heart-news/sleep-heart-disease/


11. Healthxchange.sg. n.d. [online] Available at: https://www.healthxchange.sg/wellness/sleeping-disorders/how-blue-light-affect-melatonin-circadian-rhythm#:~:text=%E2%80%8BBlue%20light%20can%20delay,Medicine%20at%20Singapore%20General%20Hospital.&text=%E2%80%8Bis%20emitted%20by%20smart%20phones%2C%20TV%20screens%20and%20computer%20monitors.


12. Leong Kui Toh, G., n.d. 11 Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Diseases You Shouldn't Ignore | Thomson Medical. [online] Thomson Medical. Available at: https://www.thomsonmedical.com/article/11-signs-and-symptoms-of-heart-diseases-you-shouldnt-ignore/


13. n.d. Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction). [online] Available at: https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/diseases-and-conditions/107/topic_heart_attack


14. Mount Elizabeth Hospital. 2018. 10 Common Heart Conditions In Singapore. [online] Available at: https://www.mountelizabeth.com.sg/healthplus/article/common-heart-conditions