#AskSwedish: Heart Health
17 ways to improve your heart health
You’d be forgiven for thinking that all your body parts are the same age. But a recent study of middle-aged men has shown that one in ten have an ‘old’ heart. Heart disease is still the number one killer of men and these ‘old’ hearts are seemingly aged as a result of medications, tobacco, alcohol, bad diet and stress.
To avoid this premature aging and keep your ticker running, we’ve got 17 must-read lifestyle, diet and exercise tips to keep you in optimum heart health.
Sudden cardiac death. It’s hardly a topic you want to read about, but we’ve got good reason for bringing it up. A new major study from theAmerican Heart Associationhas found one in nine men will suffer a heart attack out of the blue before the age of 70.
(Related: How to tell if you’re having a heart attack)
Yes, that's a scary figure. But why haven’t we heard about it before? Because it’s incredibly difficult to study unexpected heart attacks because they’re, well, unexpected.
So how can scientists narrow down which people are worth studying? By observing men who choose not to lead a healthy life – the research showed smoking and avoiding exercise raises your chances of sudden cardiac arrest by 12%. And the study says your odds get worse the unhealthier you are.
So, that leaves one major question: how do you lower your risk of a heart attack? Fortunately, the report highlighted a few healthy heart essentials:
- Lower your blood pressure (that’s simple enough with oureasy guide to hypertension)
- Reduce your cholesterol level (give this a tick after readingour ultimate guide for slashing cholesterol)
- Give up smoking (obviously a sensibleMHreader would never pick up a cancer stick – but we’ve got afour-step guide to giving up smoking,nonetheless)
But what if you want to shrink your odds further? What if, say, you’re looking for 17 simple tips to better your heart health? Well, you've come to the right place…
1. Bust the mic
Be the Jay Z to her Beyonce. A Swedish study found that singing improves your heart rate variability, making you resilient to cardiac arrest.
2. See the light
Direct sun exposure boosts BP-lowering nitric oxide. Roll up your sleeves for a quick hit. (Investigative Dermatology)
3. Cut the cheese
Dairy fans are less likely to havebad cholesterol, say Bordeaux researchers (quelle surprise). Vintage red optional.
(Related: why are wine and cheese so good for your heart?)
4. Sink pressure
Burnt-out men can halve their risk of stress-induced heart attacks by swimming twice a week, say Swiss scientists.
5. Cop a lungful
Take six deep breaths in 30sec to lower BP by up to 4 points. (Hypertension Research)
6. Stay strong
Quit the midweek HIIT class: lifting heavy is a better way to expand your blood vessels. (Journal of S&C Research)
7. Add depth
Squats raise good cholesterol; deep squats see it skyrocket. (Journal of Hypertension)
8. Ride for life
Finish gym sessions on the static bike. The motion makes your arteries more flexible. (Journal of Hypertension)
9. Be a beta male
Eat orange foods: they pack heart healthy beta-carotene. Think squashes, not Wotsits. (Journal of Hypertension)
10. Salt of the Earth
Low-salt diets could increase the risk of heart disease in healthy men. And while those with hypertension would do well to keep tabs on their habit, for the general population a lower intake was correlated with a greater risk of early death.McMaster University
11. Hit the road
The plant-turned-pill rhodiola rosea curbs stress and keeps your heart muscle strong. (Ethnopharmacology)
12. Hear no evil
For each 10dB of traffic noise outside the house, your heart attack risk rises by up to 10%. Plug up your ears at night. (Danish Cancer Society)
13. Find cod
TheMHreligion has one tenet: eat cod regularly (its protein is special) to drown our heart-damaging CRP. (Journal of Nutrition)
14. Track Sabbath
On Sundays, bring HIIT back. Alternate 15-30sec jogging/sprinting for a healthier lipid profile. Enjoy the blood rush. (Journal of S&C Research)
15. Budget squeeze
A month of hand-grip training lowers BP by 10%. Try 4x2min tennis ball squeezes, perhaps while listening to the Chancellor speak.
16. Whey to bulk
A study from the University of Reading found consuming 56g of protein per day could reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes by 8%. We'll shake on that.American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
17. Heart it or hate it
Hungry scientists at the University of Bristol found that, when eaten three times a week, Marmite can enhance heart function in healthy adults and help prevent cardiovascular disease. Shame about the post-Brexit shortage.
Video: Health Chat: Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy
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