It’s not difficult to keep your heart healthy if you follow a few tips. Did you know that there are certain times of the day in which you’re more likely to have a heart attack? For instance, first thing in the morning the risk of a heart attack goes up 40% according to research from Harvard University. If you have a history of heart disease in your family, you should be especially aware of these times and situations that can increase your risk of having a heart attack. Here are some steps to keep your heart healthy:
Up to 40% of Americans do not exercise on a regular basis. Over exertion causes your blood pressure and heart rate to jump dramatically, as well as increasing levels of stress hormones. A heart attack can take place when you over exert yourself beyond the level to which you’ve become accustomed. If you don’t exercise, playing full court press basketball or shoveling massive amounts of snow are going to greatly increase your risk of heart attack. Commit to starting an exercise routine and stick to it. And remember to start slowly and increase the level or intensity of exercise gradually. If you exercise in the early morning, be sure to warm up fully before beginning your exercise.
Prepare for Stressful Situations Ahead of Time.
If you know you’re going to be in a stressful situation that is going to cause anxiety, prepare yourself. Stress and anxiety can cause your blood pressure, heart rate, and adrenaline levels to skyrocket. It may be flying, public speaking or something else that causes you high levels of anxiety. Centering yourself mentally or meditation may also help to alleviate some of the stress. Ask your doctor about beta-blockers which can be taken before you get into that stressful situation.
Maintain Regular Sleep/Wake Schedule.
It’s good to relax but probably not best to sleep in occasionally. Waking up early after sleeping in for the past day or two can raise your blood pressure because your body’s normal rhythm is upset. It’s best to get up at the same time each day of the week.
Wake Up Slowly, Gently.
Plan ahead and allow yourself to hit the snooze button a few times every morning. First thing in the morning is a hard time for your heart. Your blood is thicker and more difficult for your heart to pump because you’re partially dehydrated. Adrenaline and hormone levels begin to rise as you wake up which require additional oxygen, making your heart work harder. Take it easy, wake up gradually. Place a picture or item at your bedside that makes you feel relaxed – perhaps a loved one, children, or a place you particularly enjoy like the mountains or the ocean. Read a book that makes you feel good for a few moments before you get out of bed.
Avoid High-Fat, High-Carb Meals.
That juicy steak and potato swimming in butter and sour cream are certainly delicious, but can also cause your blood vessels to constrict which can cause your blood to clot more easily. I think it’s OK to indulge occasionally but I also watch my portion size. Try eating smaller bites and allowing more time in between bites. You’ll feel fuller faster and won’t indulge in as much food. An aspirin a day, adult low-strength 81mg, also helps to keep your blood free from clots and lowers your risk of heart attack.
M Kayo is not a physician. Medical advice is just that, advice. Always seek the advice of a medical professional.
As always, consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program or routine.