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Healthy heart needs your protection

To have a healthy heart is a desire of more than 80 (!!) million people in the US. Per American Heart Association (AHA), this is the number of Americans suffering from one or more forms of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) in 2005.

Healthy heart does not draw attention until something happens. If you are healthy, and have no history of heart diseases (I hope this is the case!), ask yourself:

When was the last time
I thought about protecting my heart

Let's face it: we usually do not care until something is "not right".
If you do not protect your heart today, the "not right" situation might become reality sooner than you think.

Two main factors impact your heart, and can cause heart diseases:
your diet, and your lifestyle.

The good news is, you can manage both of these factors in order to protect your healthy heart. It is much easier to maintain, than to fix.

The "bad" news is... you just need to do it, and to do it today!

Cholesterol and blood pressure

A diet high in meats and fats is the formula for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

These two measurable and interrelated aspects of heart and circulatory disease are widespread in industrialized nations.

High cholesterol levels in your blood lead to an accumulation of fatty plaque (cholesterol buildup) on the interior walls of blood vessels, as shown on the picture above. This reduces the internal diameter of your blood vessels, and leaves less space for blood to flow. Your healthy heart, this amazing biological pump, experiences increasing difficulty in pushing the same volume of blood through blood vessels of smaller diameter - leading to higher blood pressure.

High blood pressure is sometimes referred to as "the silent killer." Most people with high blood pressure (hypertension) don't have any high blood pressure symptoms, since the effects of high blood pressure are occurring inside the body.

If the inside of your blood vessels get smaller and harder because of cholesterol buildup - and the pressure inside them increases - your heart has to pump harder to get blood through them. Your heart is a muscle, so just like all other muscles, working harder makes a healthy heart get bigger.This is not a good thing for your heart. It can become stretched out, and some of the blood that is supposed to pump through your body remains inside the heart instead.

Eventually, the heart begins to weaken because it simply cannot keep pumping so hard against the pressure in blood vessels. When the heart can no longer pump all the blood out of its chambers, it is not a healthy heart anymore... This is when person has what's known as congestive heart failure. This is a serious condition. One symptom of congestive heart failure is shortness of breath, as a result of fluid backed up in the lungs.

Not only heart is affected by high blood pressure, but also blood vessels, brain, kidneys and eyes.

Heart healthy diet

Bad eating habits are a way of life. Feeding your heart well is a powerful way to reduce or even eliminate some risk factors, and to maintain a healthy heart.

Adopting a heart-healthy diet can help reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugars, and even reduce body weight!

Here are 5 basic nutrition strategies to lower your cholesterol and reduce risks of heart diseases:

  1. Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes (peas, beans, lentils). These products have been shown to have positive impact on healthy heart by reducing risk of heart diseases. See for example this research paper about legume consumption.

  2. Keep an eye on fat calories, and limit your total fat intake. Try to eat minimum of saturated fats and trans-fatty acids: fats found in butter, salad dressing, sweets and desserts. Eat foods high in monounsaturated fats instead. Natural sources of monounsaturated fats are olive, canola, peanut oils, and also nuts and avocado.
  3. Eat a variety of protein foods (your healthy heart needs them) - but in the right amount! Common protein foods (meat, dairy products) are among the main reasons for increased heart disease risk. You can reduce this nutritional risk factor by eating more fish and vegetable sources of protein.

  4. Limit cholesterol consumption. Cholesterol and saturated fat are usually found in the same foods so by cutting on cholesterol you also cut saturated fats. Limit your simple carbohydrates' consumption (regular soft drinks, sugar, sweets). If you have high cholesterol, these simple carbohydrates exacerbate the condition and may increase your risk for heart disease. Instead, eat complex carbohydrates: whole wheat pasta, brown or wild rice, whole-grain breads.

  5. Eat regularly. Skipping meals often leads to overeating. For some, eating five to six mini-meals may help control blood sugars and regulate metabolism. This approach may not work for those who tend to overeat. For them, three balanced meals a day may be a better approach.

Here are some useful sources of information on healthy diet:

  • Healty Heart Diet Q&A
  • Introduction to Heart Healthy Diet: step-by-step interactive analysis and recommendations, virtual grocery store, cyber kitchen, and more. The webpage also has links to cholesterol control related pages.
  • American Heart Association diet: a list of heart healthy foods recommended by AHA.
  • Diet and Exercise for Health
    Diet and exercise plus a little education can help you become and stay healthy. Don't live your life so that medical professionals and drugs are needed to fix you once you're broken.

Lifestyle for a healthy heart

There are few fundamental aspects of lifestyle apart from healthy diet, which can benefit your overall health, and healthy heart in particular:

  • Exercise regularly
    Weight control is directly related to regular physical activity: when you move, you burn excess calories (and lose weight!). You do not have to be an athlete to benefit from regular physical activity. Even modest amounts of physical activity can improve your health. You can start with small, specific goals, such as walking 10 minutes a day, 3 days a week, and build up slowly from there.

  • Control yout weight
    Excessive weight is a known factor for many health problems. To name just a few: high blood sugar, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke, some types of cancer, osteoarthritis. More about weight management here.

  • Quit smoking
    Rather than listing here risk factors related to smoking - most of which you probably know, here are some trivia-like facts. For me, the numbers below "feel" more personal than numbers of overall smoking statistics, or general medical facts.

    • People who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day have more than twice the risk of heart attack than nonsmokers.
    • Smokers who have a heart attack are more likely to die within an hour of the heart attack.
    • Almost 40 % of those who died from smoking die from heart and blood vessel disease.
    • Your blood pressure increases by 10-15 percent every time you light up.
    • According to the American Heart Association, smokers who quit between ages 35-39 add an average of 6-9 years to their lives. Smokers who quit between ages 65-69 increase their life expectancy by 1-4 years.
    • A non-smoker would have to put on an additional 150 pounds in order to increase his/her mortality rate to that of an average smoker.

    Personal story

    I started to smoke when I was 20.

    At the age of 33 I was finishing about one pack a day. One day I had a strange pain in my chest, on the left side. Suspecting that there was something wrong with my heart, I went to family physician. He sent me for a stress test, which could determine if there was actually something wrong with my heart.
    After taking the test, I came back to his office for results. I was sitting and waiting for the doctor, with a pack of cigarettes in my breast pocket. He came - and saw the pack of cigarettes on me. What is this, he said. You came to my office to check if you still have a healthy heart - and you have cigarettes in your pocket!..
    He was not mad at me - just looked puzzled.
    At that moment something suddenly "cleaned up" in my mind.
    I looked at him and said: "I really do not know why I have cigarettes with me..."
    ..When I came home I told my wife that I decided to quit smoking.
    I did not quit sharply and immediately. For several months I was sometimes having a cigarette together with friends.
    After about 6 months I quit completely; it was in 2001.
    By the way, that test did not detect any anomalies with my heart - but it definitely helped me!

  • Drink lots of water
    Even if you're not breaking a sweat, it's extremely important to drink enough water in order to:
    • Properly regulate body temperature.
    • Carry nutrients to cells and tissues, including heart tissue
    • Improve digestion.
    • Promptly remove wastes and toxins from the body.
    8-12 eight ounce glasses a day is a common recommended fluids intake.

  • Enjoy life!
    Keeping positive attitude and avoiding stress is crucial for maintaining a healthy heart. Learn ways to relax and find enjoyment in life. A recent study of patients with heart disease followed for six to 10 years found that those with pessimistic beliefs about their recovery were twice as likely to die during that timeframe as those who felt more optimistic.
    Here is the link with more details on this study.

Dietary supplement for a healthy heart

A modern life is "loaded" with factors harmful to your heart!

Even if you follow a heart healthy diet, and manage healthy lifestyle, factors like pollution, stress at work and at home, passive smoking, and also natural aging process adversely affect your healthy heart.

Here is exactly where a specialized dietary supplement can help you.

Agel HRT is a gel supplement designed specifically to help protect your heart. Learn more here.

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Disclaimer: Product claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Not all Agel products are available in all countries. Nothing on this site should be interpreted as medical or nutritional advice. The testimonials and product claims on this site may not necessarily apply to you and you should undertake your own investigation, including seeking advice from your physician prior to changing your diet or using any nutritional supplements. Agel products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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