The heart is the strongest muscle in the body. It can shoot blood up to nine metres into the air! It needs to be this strong so that blood can reach every corner of the body. To keep it in good shape it needs to be taken care of and you need to remember to have preventive examinations.
Every day the heart contracts an average of 100,000 times. This means that before you’re 70, your heart has a “mileage” of over 2.5 billion beats. And how do you repay it for all that hard work? Often with stress, an unhealthy diet, and smoking. This creates intensifying problems with your blood circulation, such as atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, and hypertension. Many of them can be avoided or diagnosed at an early stage and treated effectively. However, there are a few things you need to remember about.
A few tips for your heart to stay healthy
“Contrary to what is believed, the causes of heart diseases should not be traced back to our genes, as only a few per cent are hereditary. Most of the diseases are caused by us and our lifestyles,” emphasises Mieczysław Kopacz, MD Ph.D., head of the Department of Internal Diseases and Cardiology at the Medicover Hospital. The condition of the heart deteriorates not only under stress, but also because of an unhealthy diet, which often causes abnormal weight. Abdominal obesity is especially dangerous, as the fat builds up in the abdominal cavity and the chest. If you want to take care of your health, remember to avoid anything that may cause obesity. First of all, you should minimise the saturated fatty acids and trans fats in your diet, which are mostly found in fast food and fatty dishes. You should also avoid eating too much salt and cut down on alcohol. Your diet should be rich in wholegrain products, vegetables, lean meat and dairy, as well as healthy unsaturated fats, especially those containing omega-3 fatty acids (found in particular in fish and olive oil).
Be physically active to avoid a big belly. “Exercising frequently will help you keep your weight in check, reduce stress and lower the level of cholesterol and glucose. It will also improve the functioning of the heart and ensure the blood vessel walls stay elastic. It will also improve blood flow and lower blood pressure,” says Mieczysław Kopacz, MD Ph.D.
Smoking is also particularly dangerous for the heart. “Substances found in tobacco products cause narrowing of the blood vessels, so you can say that every cigarette you smoke increases the risk of atherosclerosis, and this is just asking for a heart attack. Nicotine also increases the heart rate and blood pressure, while carbon monoxide attaches to haemoglobin and impairs oxygen delivery to the tissues,” says cardiologist Mieczysław Kopacz, MD Ph.D. Simply inhaling smoke is also unhealthy, which is why passive smokers should stay alert.
Take a closer look at your heart
If you want to avoid cardiovascular diseases you should never forget about preventive blood tests and your monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol level. From time to time you should also have a comprehensive diagnostic check-up. These days a lack of time is no longer an excuse, because you can undergo a heart screening in one location which only takes up to a few hours, so you don’t need to worry about withdrawing from family or professional life for a longer period of time. “The heart screening consists of several specialist laboratory, imaging, and exercise tests. The latter two include the following examinations: an electrocardiogram, echocardiography, thoracic radiography, 24-hour electrocardiographic and pressure monitoring, an exercise test, and, if medically justified, coronary tomography, which is so-called virtual non-invasive coronary imaging,” explains Mieczysław Kopacz, MD Ph.D. They allow the doctor to compile detailed information about the patient’s cardiovascular system. “We can evaluate possible abnormalities, heart disorders, and cardiac output irregularities. We also monitor blood pressure abnormalities,” adds Mieczysław Kopacz, MD, Ph.D. A doctor with access to all this information can identify potential hazards and, if necessary, decide on the next course of action.
Preventing heart diseases requires time and effort, but can protect against many unpleasant consequences. That is why it is important to choose a healthy lifestyle and examine yourself regularly. That way you will be able to prevent diseases or diagnose them at an early stage and treat them effectively.