Every February ushers in an abundance of chocolate shaped hearts, balloons and cards … all in celebration of Valentine’s Day. But there’s a more serious reason to be thinking about hearts during this second month of the year. February is Heart Month, and this is when Heart and Stroke reminds us about the importance of our cardiovascular health. After all, heart disease affects nearly 2.4 million Canadian adults and is the second leading cause of death in the country. Do you know what you can do to improve the health of your heart? Here, we discuss the best foods that help improve heart health, as well as exercises that help to maintain good heart function. Here are a few ways to improve your heart and overall health!
Lifestyle choices can make a big difference in your heart health.
You likely already know about the obvious healthy lifestyle choices you can make to promote heart health: quit smoking (vaping too – Health Canada warns that it is dangerous), eat a healthy and balanced diet, get sufficient sleep, exercise regularly and keep tabs on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
An entire lifestyle change can seem daunting but keeping your heart in top shape isn’t that difficult. There are also other easy, little ways to boost your heart health. For instance, here are 5 everyday things you can do for your heart:
Say “yes” to healthy fats, and “no” to trans fats. We do need good fats in our diet such as nuts, seeds, avocado, and fatty fish, as suggested by Canada’s Food Guide. The kind of fats to steer clear of are called trans fats; these are found in processed food, packaged baked goods, fast foods, and fried foods. They clog arteries, raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of getting heart disease or having a stroke. Cutting trans fats can also help with weight loss, so for many, it’s a win-win.
Watch your mouth. Dentists are often the first ones to spot serious illnesses during routine dental exams. Brush and floss regularly to keep your mouth clean and bacteria at bay. The danger of mouth bacteria is that it can move into the bloodstream, and that can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Your dentist and your heart will thank you for your clean mouth.
Don’t lose out on your snoozes. We all know that a good night’s sleep can keep you mentally sharp, but did you know it can also keep you healthy? If you don’t sleep enough, you’re at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. Try to log at least 7-8 hours each night. Sweet dreams!
Walk it off. Research has shown that no matter how much exercise you do, staying seated for too long is dangerous to your health — including your heart. So if you have a desk job, get up and socialize with co-workers once every hour, park farther away from work, take the stairs, and use your lunch hour to walk around the block.
Make secondhand smoke first on your avoidance list. The chemicals in cigarette smoke are dangerous to everyone – even nonsmokers. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, secondhand smoke contains hundreds of toxic chemicals which can put nonsmokers at risk for heart attacks and/or strokes.
Should you need more heart-related reasons to start living a little healthier right now, consider these facts:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death for women in Canada (1)
- Five times as many women die from heart disease than breast cancer (2)
- Men are two times as likely to suffer from heart disease than women (3)
- Men are diagnosed with heart disease 10 years earlier than women (4)
Without question, a healthy lifestyle can help boost your chances of having a healthy heart. In fact, Heart and Stroke says that almost 80% of premature heart disease can be prevented through healthy behaviours. Remember that genetics can also play a role in heart health. If you are living with a heart condition, adopting a healthier lifestyle becomes that much more important.
Here’s something else you should know: if you have a condition such as congenital heart disease, heart murmur, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, angina, atherosclerosis, or even if you have suffered a heart attack or stroke, Canada Protection Plan has plans that offer up to $500,000 in No Medical life insurance coverage. Heart Month (or any other month, for that matter) is a great time to have that “heart to heart” talk with your Advisor, or contact Canada Protection Plan at 1-877-851-9090 / www.cpp.ca.
- (1) (2) https://www.heartandstroke.ca/what-we-do/media-centre/news-releases/2018-heart-report-news-release
- (3) (4) https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/heart-disease-canada.html
- Everyday things you can do for your heart: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-things-to-do-every-day-to-keep-your-heart-healthy/