You want to start the new year fit and healthy and create the best conditions to stay efficient? Then now is the right time to take action. The German Heart Foundation has compiled useful tips for a heart-healthy lifestyle.
This will not only protect your heart and blood vessels, but also arm your immune system to fight cold, flu and corona viruses.
"A healthy lifestyle does a lot for the cardiovascular system, it's just a matter of taking it one step at a time and not trying to do too much at once", says cardiologist and rehab specialist Professor Bernhard Schwaab of the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Heart Foundation and head physician of the Curschmann Clinic on Timmendorfer Strand.
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But how do I get my inner piggy in motion?? How to eat a healthy diet? And do I have all my risk factors for heart attack. Keeping an eye on stroke with the help of a regular health check-up? The following checklist is designed to help motivated individuals on their way to a heart-healthy life:
1. Be active, move more. 2. Quit smoking. 3. Eat healthier, avoid sugar. 4. Watch your weight. 5. Watch your blood prere. 6. Keep an eye on your cholesterol level. 7. Make sure you get enough relaxation in your daily routine.
Schwaab recommends starting with physical activity first. "With exercise, you quickly feel better and are more efficient. Heart patients often cope better with cardiac treatment if they are more physically active." After that, it is easier to take further measures. Here's how exercise also helps you get over cigarette cravings. Improves general mood.
Nevertheless, each patient should individually determine the order of his or her priorities. This is important so that the lifestyle changes are better internalized.
1. Be active, move more
Regular exercise is an effective way to prevent cardiovascular disease, as well as diabetes and cancers such as colon and breast cancer. Endurance exercise five days a week for at least 30 minutes is ideal. For example, moderate endurance exercise such as jogging, fast walking, cycling, swimming, ergometer training or even dancing.
The best thing is to make your everyday life as active as possible: bicycle instead of car or e-scooter, stairs instead of elevator, standing instead of sitting in the office to make phone calls and to work.
"However, heart patients should discuss their exercise tolerance with their doctor", advises Schwaab. This also applies to people without the disease after a long break without physical activity. Exercise not only protects against arteriosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels), but also has a positive effect on other bodily and organ functions such as cell renewal, stimulation of brain activity, and metabolic processes in the liver and other organs.
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2. Stop smoking
Quitting smoking or not starting at all is worthwhile! Nicotine is a powerful poison for the blood vessels and smoking is a risk factor for heart attack, stroke and hardening of the arteries. In this country, 120 people give up tobacco.000 premature and preventable deaths per year: caused by heart attacks and strokes, malignant tumors and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Quitting smoking remains the single most effective measure after a heart attack. Reduces the recurrence risk of another heart attack by well over 50 percent. Even the permanent smoking of e-cigarettes can no longer be classified as harmless to health today.
3. Eat healthier, avoid sugar
Heart specialists recommend traditional Mediterranean cuisine. "The Mediterranean diet relies on fruits and vegetables, salads, legumes, little meat but rather fish, olive and canola oil and herbs instead of salt", confirms Prof. Schwaab. Salt binds water in the body, which can promote high blood prere. In particular, daily consumption of sufficient vegetables and fiber can help prevent obesity, which in turn promotes high blood prere, due to their relatively low energy content.
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Moreover, the dishes of Mediterranean cuisine taste delicious and are by no means bland. Too much sugar in foods and beverages increases the risk of obesity, high blood prere and diabetes. Therefore the motto: avoid sugar in beverages. Sugar is also present in foods in which we would not expect to find large quantities (yogurt, salad dressings, ketchup). A look at the description of the ingredients helps to avoid sugar.
4. Watch your weight
In addition to exercise, the Mediterranean diet promotes gradual weight loss for a healthy normal weight. It is also worth limiting alcohol consumption. Alcohol has many calories and can indirectly lead to high blood prere through weight gain. Obesity is an important. Common trigger for high blood prere.
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The goal should be a weight with a body mass index (BMI) between 22 and 25. In terms of waist circumference, men should be less than 102. Women should aim for less than 88 cm. Abdominal fat produces hormones and pro-inflammatory messengers that affect blood prere, among other things. "Every kilo and every centimeter less has a positive effect on high blood prere and sugar," says Schwaab, who is also president of the German Society for Prevention and Rehabilitation of Cardiovascular Diseases (DGPR).
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5. Watch your blood prere
High blood prere is treacherous because you don't feel it or see it at first. If undetected and untreated, high blood prere significantly increases the risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke or kidney damage. It is therefore essential to measure blood prere regularly: at the pediatrician's office from the time children start school, and later as part of job orientation examinations or routine examinations at the family doctor's or gynecologist's office.
Doctors speak of high blood prere when different upper arm measurements in the doctor's office on different days show values of 140 to 90 mmHg or higher. For self-measurements at home, the upper limit is 135 to 85 mmHg. The blood prere values in the practice may be somewhat higher, because usually the patients are somewhat excited during the measurement ("white coat high prere").
To determine whether there is an elevated blood prere, a careful measurement is necessary. The values can be logged in a blood prere passport to document the progression.
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6. Watch your cholesterol
Elevated blood cholesterol levels are an important risk factor for heart attacks and strokes, as well as circulatory disorders of the legs (shop window disease, or "pAVK" for short).
High LDL cholesterol levels cause vascular changes in the arteries of the heart (arteriosclerosis), in brain arteries and in leg arteries with the formation of deposits in these vessels (plaques). "Studies have proven this quite clearly for decades", says Schwaab. In addition, studies have shown that lowering elevated cholesterol levels with medication has a favorable effect on the course of the disease.
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An examination of the cholesterol level during the regular health check-up from the age of 35 once a year at the family doctor's office contributes to the prevention of infarction.
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7. Pay attention to sufficient relaxation in the everyday life
Stress at work, in the family, in relationships and even in leisure time: It's not stress alone that makes people ill, but a lack of relaxation. During stress, the body prepares itself very well for the acute problem situation: stress hormones are released, blood sugar rises, insulin secretion increases, the heart beats faster and blood prere rises.
However, if stress persists, these processes do not come to rest and the organism is constantly under steam. It damages the entire body. The result can be inflammatory reactions in the body, in the worst case diabetes, stroke, arteriosclerosis and heart attack or cardiac arrhythmia.
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Therefore, pay attention to a balance between stress and relaxation. Provide islands of calm in your life. Relaxation techniques are also very helpful, such as progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, yoga, qigong or tai chi.
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For lifestyle changes mostly old accustomed structures in one's own life have to be broken up. "That is usually difficult," says, says Schwaab and recommends: "It is often helpful to set up fixed anchor points in one's living environment: the regular running, walking or heart group in the club, cooking together several times with family or friends at home, and for smokers, the exchange with ex-smokers in the self-help group."