Matters of the heart
Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Whether you’re single, married, or somewhere in between, you can’t escape February. Love songs take over the airwaves, Valentine’s Day cards fill newsagent stands, and florists are bursting with long-stemmed red roses.
But when it comes to real matters of the heart, there’s nothing romantic about snoring, failure to hold an erection, or your heart skipping a beat.
Snoring (a sign of obstructive sleep apnoea), chest pain, shortness of breath and erectile dysfunction are all warning signs your heart and blood vessels (veins and arteries) aren’t travelling too well.
People who carry a spare tyre around their middle, and people with diabetes are three to four times more at risk of heart attack or stroke than those without. If your blood glucose levels are regularly out of target range you can face complications including damage to the blood vessels in your heart, eyes and penis.
Here are seven things you can do daily to keep your blood vessels pumping.
1. Shift that tyre from your waist.
One to three kilos can make a big difference. Look for ways to downsize, and swap high-kilojoule options for less. Over the year, you will weigh less. For more information, visit: 8700.com.au
2. Family, food and fitness are the recipe for success.
Use your loved ones for motivation, and support. Rally up the troops and get them to join you.
3. Enlist in support.
A dietitian can help you with food, and an exercise physiologist can help with physical activity. Your GP can arrange referrals and you may be entitled to five Medicare bulk billed sessions.
4. Keep your ABC’s in check (A1c, Blood pressure, Cholesterol).
For people with diabetes, the A1c test tells how well your blood glucose levels are controlled. You want it below seven per cent. Blood pressure and cholesterol are risk factors for diabetes and heart disease and should be checked regularly by your doctor.
5. Quit the smokes.
The Quitline says a year afterwards, your risk of heart disease will be back to that of a non-smoker. They’re good odds. Calling the Quitline (13 78 48) is also said to double your chances of quitting for good.
6. Sitting is the new smoking.
After you’ve ditched the smokes, look for ways to break up your sitting time across the day. Standing burns more kilojoules, and a light to moderate walk will get your blood flowing.
7. Get some superfoods into you.
As the saying goes, baked beans really are good for your heart, as are oats and psyllium husks. They help by naturally lowering your cholesterol with the bonus of keeping your bowels regular. Oily fish help your circulation so try and get some salmon or tinned sardines in twice a week.