Men’s heart health guide
Every seven minutes in Canada, someone dies from heart disease or stroke’but with a few simple lifestyle changes, you can lower your risk. Here are six tips for better heart health
Heart disease risk in men
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, cardiovascular disease-which includes heart disease and stroke-kills more Canadians than any other disease. Though your risk of heart disease increases as you age, adjusting your current lifestyle could help protect you from future complications. While there are some risk factors that you can’t change, such as ethnicity and family history, others-like blood pressure, physical activity level, weight and smoking-are well within your control. Here are six tips for taking better care of your heart.
1. Keep blood pressure in check
According to the American Heart Association, men are at greater risk for high blood pressure than women until the age of 45. Luckily, you can help keep your blood pressure in check with simple changes like eliminating salt from your diet and cutting back on processed foods. In addition to eliminating harmful things from your diet, try increasing the amount of potassium-rich foods you consume, such as potatoes, bananas and raisins. If you’re a fan of garlic, go ahead and indulge-eating one to three cloves of garlic a day has been shown to reduce blood pressure. Most importantly, be proactive and be sure to have your blood pressure checked at least every other year.
2. Keep calm and carry on
Have a bad temper? You may be hurting your heart. A study of nearly 13,000 people found that those who were quick to anger were almost three times more likely to have heart attacks than their cooler-headed peers. If you feel constantly stressed out or angry, it may be time to adopt some calming, healthy habits like practicing yoga or meditation. Or consider speaking with a counsellor, who can help you understand your anger issues and work past them.
3. Butt out!
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, smoking is the single most preventable cause of heart disease. Thirty percent of all coronary-related deaths each year are from smoking. And while quitting smoking can pose a significant challenge (it’s addictive, after all) there are strategies and support groups that can help you kick the habit. After five smoke-free years, you run the same risk for heart disease as nonsmokers.
4. Drink more tea
Hooked on coffee? Consider switching to tea. In one study, Dutch researchers found that men who consumed more flavonoids-which includes the polyphenols found in tea-had a 58 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who consumed the least. The study’s healthiest participants drank about four cups of tea every day.
5. Eat more heart-healthy foods
You can cut your risk of heart disease simply by adding more heart-healthy foods to your daily diet. According to findings from the Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, men who eat at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables daily have a 30 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease. And if you’re not getting enough heart-healthy omega-3s from food sources like nuts and fatty fish, consider taking a supplement. Your heart will thank you!
6. Get moving
Need a good reason to get off the couch and get more exercise? Research suggests that only a few short bursts of intense exercise per week can help you lower your risk of developing diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In one Norwegian study, aerobic intervals even helped elderly heart failure patients reverse their heart damage. You can ease your way into exercise by going for a daily walk, or even playing interactive fitness video games. The key is to make exercise a habit in your daily life.
30 Minutes a Day to a Healthy Heart
Reader’s Digest and the Canadian Medical Association have developed a plan to keep your heart in tip-top shape! This clear, proven program is packed with vital tips on how to easily prevent the risk of heart disease-minor lifestyle adjustments is all it takes to notice dramatic differences in your overall health and quality of life. Designed to fit into any schedule, you’ll discover which diet and exercise choices bring positive results within a week! Includes over 50 appetizing, heart-friendly recipes, a customized yoga routine, and a variety of 5-minute exercises. Useful tracker lists and other resources help you chart your progress, and make it easy to maintain your healthy changes. Available now in the Best Health Store.