The Simple Seven Checklist for a Healthy Heart

NDTV Food  |  Updated: June 27, 2017 17:00 IST

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The Simple Seven Checklist for a Healthy Heart
A healthy heart is most important for a healthy life. Health experts and nutritionists believe that besides genetic and hereditary factors, the basic modification that we need to undertake in our lifestyle involves healthy eating and physical activities.

The American Heart Association conducted a survey based on which they have presented seven basic measures that people can use to rate their heart health and take steps to improve it. The study published in the journal 'Circulation: Heart Failure' suggests the following measures -

1. Managing blood pressure: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within the healthy range, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys that promote healthy heart functions.

2. Controlling cholesterol: High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke.

3. Reducing blood sugar: Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.4. Getting physically active:Living an active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. So go, get active and improve the quality of your life.

5. Eating better: A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy – for life!

6. Losing weight: When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton.

7. Stopping smoking: Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.

"Even though there is awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, many people do not act on those messages," said study senior author Vanessa Xanthakis from Boston University in the US.
The researchers followed 3,201 participants for up to 12.3 years. The average age of the participants was 59 years. During that time, 188 participants suffered heart failure.

They found that for each one-point higher cardiovascular health score on the American Heart Association's Life's Simple seven checklist for a healthy heart, there was a 23 percent lower risk of developing heart failure. Those scoring in the middle third cut their risk of heart failure nearly in half compared to those in the bottom third. Those in the top third reduced their risk even further.

"This study points to the importance of knowing your numbers and speaking to your doctor about improving your score on each health metric and trying to get as close to ideal status as possible," Xanthakis explained.

Dr. Shikha Sharma, Wellness Expert and Founder of NutriHealth, offers certain dietary guidance to maintain your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. “Avoid too much trans-fat that majority packaged food contains.” She suggests that the amount of fiber is another thing that is very significant and we must miss neither the soluble fibers (oats, apples with skin, etc) nor the insoluble fibers like whole grains and vegetables in our diet.

Adding to the same, Dr Rupali Dutta, Chief Clinical Nutritionist at Fortis-Escorts Hospital proposes the following Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) to prevent cardiac diseases

1. Eat three balanced meals and at least two snacks at about the same time daily.

2. Include 2 servings of fruit daily; they make for great snack time options instead of the high fat, high salt, refined packaged snacks.

3. For fats, it is essential to choose wisely to meet fat goals. Use a combination of cooking oils to fulfill these i.e. a combination of peanut oil + mustard oil. Consume a minimum amount of butter and ghee, do not use Vanaspati. Use high fat meats in moderation; choose low fat dairy, double toned milk and its products. Choose one ounce serving of nuts like almonds or pistachios, daily, for their healthy fat profile.

4. Avoid table salt, WHO has recommended 5 grams (1 teaspoon approximately per day). Use pickles and chutneys and pappads in moderation and not as main dishes.

5. Avoid sugar rich syrups, fruit juices and honey.

6. Make exercise a must in your daily routine without indulging into excuses. From the numerous ways present out there, you can easily choose your way to stress free your mind as you engage your body physically.

Above all follow one simple rule, start today and tomorrow may be too late.

CommentsWith inputs from IANS and Heart.org

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