Celebrating Philippine Heart Month | Taking Care of Our Heart Health
Celebrate the month of love with these healthy reminders for your heart health.
February is a celebration of hearts — with the observance of Philippine Heart Month, the commemoration is not limited to just one particular day, but the whole month. Nonetheless, as we all prepare our own unique ways to spend Valentine’s Day with our loved ones, it’s essential that we show some love towards our own hearts, literally.
Our heart is a wonderful organ that serves the whole body — beating around 100,000 times a day, and pumping approximately 8 pints of blood throughout the body every day throughout our lifetime.
Keeping our heart in top shape is, therefore, key to a long life. In line with this, it can be alarming that in the Philippines, the Department of Health cites heart disease and diseases of the vascular system as among the leading causes of death. The World Health Organization also states that noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) take almost 300,000 lives in our country each year. Notably, heart disease is also among these NCDs.
Ways to Take Care of Your Heart
One thing to remember is that heart disease is one of the most preventable chronic diseases. That said, it is up to us to make the necessary steps to take better care of our hearts. Here are some simple ways you could do to make your heart happier even after the Valentines season has passed:
We know that smoking cigarettes and tobacco is bad for our lungs, but it is also hazardous to our heart's health. According to the Texas Heart Institute, smoking raises blood pressure, which can increase the risk of stroke. Research also suggests that breathing in cigarette smoke can contaminate our blood with chemicals that can damage our heart and blood vessels.
Eat a healthy diet
A heart-healthy diet is comprised of less salt (particularly salty meats such as ham, bacon, and hotdogs), less processed food, and less sugar. It consists of a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is also ideal, and the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests eating fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring at least twice a week.
Engage in physical activity
For adults, it is recommended that they perform at least 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity per week. These activities can involve exercises such as brisk walking, dancing, climbing stairs, or even everyday activities such as gardening or doing household chores.
There is truth to the saying that “Laughter is the best medicine.” According to AHA, research on laughter shows that it can reduce inflammation in your arteries, decrease stress hormones, and increase your body’s level of good cholesterol.
Dark chocolate, in particular, is high in flavonoids — compounds that are rich in antioxidant activity and can help your body reduce inflammation, aside from improving the blood flow and lowering blood pressure. Just remember to eat in moderation.
Brush your teeth
Researchers have recently found out that our heart health can also be associated with our oral hygiene. It was found in a study from Cleveland Clinic that bacteria that cause gum disease can enter the bloodstream and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. As such, make sure that you are also paying attention to your dental health.
Spend time with pets
For pet owners, here’s one more reason to love your furry friends more: Harvard Health reports that there is some evidence on the association of owning a dog with lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Whether it’s because pets have a calming effect on us or because dog owners tend to get more exercise, is still to be determined. Nonetheless, several other studies (like those from the National Institutes of Health) show that owning a pet helps improve your heart and lung health.
By taking a more active role in taking care of our hearts, we keep ourselves in shape for the long-term. Not only will we feel better in doing our everyday tasks, but we will be in a better condition to take care of the ones we love.