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Maintaining Your Heart Health


What You Should Know...

The first step to maintaining a healthy heart is to realise that failing to take proactive steps can lead to heart disease.

So here are a few more things to know:

  • Your lifestyle choices can determine the risks of developing heart disease.

  • Family History is related to heart disease - you should know yours.
    • A person with relatives who have heart disease may be at a risk of the same condition.

  • Monitoring your heart health is not a luxury but a necessity.


What You Should Do:

Physical Checks

  • Make it a habit to check your Blood Pressure regularly.
    • You could achieve this by buying a blood pressure machine and checking your blood pressure once a month.
    • If you get a blood pressure reading more than 120 (systolic)/ 70 (diastolic) mmHg, book an appointment to see your Doctor.
  • Alternatively, you could have it checked by a doctor or nurse at your clinic.
    • If the blood pressure reading is high, they will arrange to check it again a few times to confirm whether or not you have Hypertension.


Amend Your Lifestyle Choices

  • Lifestyle choices are regular habits we adopt or practice on a day to day basis.
  • To support a healthy lifestyle, we recommend the following:
    • Stop Smoking yesterday.
    • Cut down Alcohol use.
      • Sensible drinking means you avoid drinking alcohol every day or 'binge drinking'.
    • Cut down sugary drinks.
      • They increase weight and could lead to Diabetes.
    • Reduce the amount of salt consumed in meals.
      • Too much salt or seasoning could increase the risk of high blood pressure.
    • Lose weight if necessary.
      • Aim at small weight loss goals over a long period. For instance 1kg every week.
        • This is sustainable and promotes health.
        • Excess weight increases the strain on the heart.
    • Physical exercise not only helps with weight loss but improves the overall circulation and boosts heart health.
    • Eat a healthy diet in moderation.
      • Too much oily or saturated foods should be minimized or avoided.
      • The same applies to processed foods and high carbohydrate snacks.
      • Adopt a practice for drinking plain water every day - aiming for at least 3 litres every 24 hours.


Consider Your Mental Health

  • Your Mental Health is also key to a healthy heart.
    • Low mood and anxiety can be linked with chronic stress which can cause heart disease.
    • Having a good social network - a warm supportive group no matter how small can prevent feelings of isolation.
    • Knowing when to take a break and when to say 'No' to extra work so you can avoid burnout.
    • Seeking treatment early for mental health problems is very important.
    • Not only is it important to find out the cause when possible, getting the right treatment promptly is essential.
    • Mental health is still stigmatised in many places.
    • With support and awareness, mental health problems are gradually gaining recognition as medical conditions that require treatment.
    • Organisations like Mentally Aware (MANI) in Nigeria provide support for people with mental health issues.
    • This has helped create national discussion around treating mental health problems.


Best Practice in Pregnancy

  • Pregnancy is a condition that could lead to heart disease if not properly managed.
    • Many women do experience normal, healthy pregnancy and labour.
    • But some could develop serious problems like high blood pressure in pregnancy.
    • This could lead to serious complications that could result in the death of both mum and baby.
    • So taking steps to prevent and monitor for heart problems is important.
    • One of the ways this is done is by participating in regular antenatal classes - recommended for all pregnant women.

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Dr Sylvia Kama-Kieghe

Founder, AskAwayHealth

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