Your heart is probably overworked.
To keep you alive, it beats up to 100,000 times a day, pumping 5.6 litres of blood through your body and to your organs a minute. This World Heart Awareness month, take some time to learn about the hard truths behind heart health to keep yourself in tip-top shape.
Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death. Each year, more people succumb to heart disease than malaria, HIV/AIDs and tuberculosis combined.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2015, an estimated 17.7 million people died from cardiovascular diseases, representing 31% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.4 million were due to coronary heart disease and 6.7 million were due to stroke.
The Straits Times has also reported that Singaporeans suffer from heart failure at an average age of 61, 10 years earlier than their American and European counterparts.
When compared to Asians as a whole, Singaporeans also have a higher prevalence of coronary artery disease, hypertension, and diabetes, the three most common diseases that lead to heart failure.
In women, 1 in 4 will die of a cardiovascular disease. (That’s 5x more than the mortality rate for breast cancer!) Men are 3-5 times more at risk of coronary heart disease than women and are also more likely to develop them at a younger age.
Thankfully, heart disease is a condition that can be prevented with specific changes made to your lifestyle and diet like:
1. Replacing refined grains with heart-loving wholegrains
By getting at least 25 grams of whole grains a day, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 15%! Other studies have also suggested a 20% – 30% reduced risk when you get 3 or more servings of whole-grained foods daily.
Whole grains help keep your heart healthy with fiber and nutrients that aid with the lowering of cholesterol levels.
2. Get moving!
Sit less and do more. Regular physical activity can do loads for your heart health.
Exercise, when done frequently and in moderate to vigorous intensity, helps to strengthen the heart muscle. As a result, your heart gets better at doing its thing and more blood gets pumped throughout your body, giving blood oxygen levels a boost as well as lowering your risk for coronary heart disease.
3. Get enough sleep
Make sleep a priority. Getting 7-8 hours of restful sleep is essential in keeping your heart healthy. A study of 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who slept less than six hours per night were two times as likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack compared to people who slept six to eight hours per night.
A lack of sleep has been linked disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes, including blood pressure and inflammation.