Stay on the pulse and look after your heart with these healthy tips!
Whatever your age, it’s never too late or too early to adopt healthy habits that’ll benefit your heart. Here’s what you should be doing now to promote a healthy and fulfilling life…
In your 20s: Our 20s are for most the carefree years, but this is also a great time to start laying the foundation for a long and healthy life. By now you should have a doctor who you see at least once a year for a full check-up – this includes testing your cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar levels, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. This is also a great time to start a regular exercise programme. Cut back on alcohol, and avoid smoking as well as second-hand smoke – your heart will thank you.
In your 30s: Your 30s can be the most stressful years of your life. You’re juggling a career, relationship responsibilities and children. It’s important to implement healthy living as part of your daily lifestyle. Eat healthily, get enough sleep, and make sure you take time to unwind and relax. Learn how to handle your stress, as long-term stress increases your risk of hypertension and heart disease. Gather all the information you can about your family’s health history too – prevention is better than cure.
In your 40s: If you’re in your 40s and have made a few bad health choices, you still have time to remedy any damage you may have caused. Start by watching your weight – your metabolism isn’t as fast as it used to be, so cut back on fats, carbohydrates and sugars. Adopt a healthy eating plan and join a gym, dance or yoga group, or running club. In addition to blood pressure checks and other heart health screenings, you should do a fasting blood glucose test by the time you’re 45. And if your partner complains about your snoring habits, it’s time to get that checked. Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnoea, a condition that causes pauses in breathing during sleep. If not properly treated, sleep apnoea can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
In your 50s: In your 50s you need to pay attention to what your body is telling you. It’s easy to slip into unhealthy eating habits, so now is an important time to relook your diet. Plenty of fruits and vegetables, fibre-rich whole grains, fish (preferably oily fish, at least twice a week), nuts, legumes and seeds should all be added to your diet. It’s also recommended to eat some meals without meat. It’s a good time to brush up on the symptoms of a heart attack and stroke. Learn as much as you can, and remember that men and women experience different signs and symptoms. If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes or any other condition that might increase your risk of a heart attack, it’s vital to stick to your treatment plan. Take your medication and follow the advice of your doctor.
Heart attack warning signs. If you or a loved one experience any of these signs, get to a hospital immediately:
- Chest discomfort in the centre of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing and fullness.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Cold sweats, nausea and light-headedness.