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One of the main organs in our body after the brain is the heart. Its function is to pump the blood throughout the body. That blood contains essential nutrients and oxygen. So, now you can see why keeping your heart in optimum condition is crucial.
However, human activities (and many times inactivity) could lead to various issues that can restrict the functioning of the heart.
Our cardiovascular system consists of the heart, blood, and blood vessels. This system runs the heart. There are certain factors that determine the smooth running of this system. Those factors are called Cardio metabolic health.
What factors determine cardio metabolic health?
There are several factors that could determine cardio metabolic health or simply heart health. But, we will mainly focus on 5 of those factors.
- BMI & waist circumference
- Blood sugar levels
- Cholesterol level
- Blood pressure
- History of heart ailments or disease.
In this blog, we will discuss these factors individually and identify ways by which we can keep our heart health good.
1:BMI & waist circumference
These 2 are nothing but ways to determine the fat percentage in your body. BMI stands for body mass index. It tells you if you are underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese.
You can calculate your BMI with this calculator.
Generally, Below 18.5 is considered underweight
18.5- 24.9 is considered a healthy weight, 25.0-29-9 is considered overweight and 30.0 and above is considered obese. This is also a kind of ideal weight calculator.
Being overweight and obese can lead to type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleeping disorder, kidney disease, some types of cancers, and more.
Obesity can directly affect heart health. Obese people can have high cholesterol, which can lead to fatty deposits in the blood vessels. This will put pressure on the heart & then the heart will pump faster to try to fulfill the demand for blood throughout the body. But, at the same time, it’s working with reduced efficiency.
According to a survey done in 2016 more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight.
Carrying fat around the hips, thighs, and belly is termed visceral fat or abdominal fat. This coats the organ and makes it difficult for them to function efficiently.
Waist circumference is used to determine the danger levels.
For females, 80 cm or more means there’s a risk and 88 cm and more means great danger.
For males, 94 cm means increased risk and 102 cm or more means great danger.
Right now, after losing 24 kg my waist circumference is 88.9 and my BMI is 25.7 ( overweight), I still need to lose 5 kg to be in the healthy weight category.
What are the limitations of BMI and waist circumference?
These methods are not applicable to children, taller people, pregnant women, people with more muscle mass, or people with more bone mass. Even people belonging to different regions, and climates. Also, weight and height are insufficient to measure fat levels.
2: Blood sugar levels
The amount of glucose or sugar in the blood is called blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone (in the pancreas) that help glucose from food to reach the cells to be used as energy. If the body is unable to make sufficient insulin or any insulin, it means that the glucose remains in the blood.
Having glucose in the blood for too long can invite many diseases including diabetes and heart disease.
On an empty stomach, Ideal blood sugar levels are 80-130 mg/dL and after 2 hours of meal it should be below 180 mg/dL.
High blood glucose can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control the heart. This can lead to heart disease.
Adults with diabetes are more likely to have heart disease than adults with no diabetes. And in that, Males have a higher risk of heart disease than females.
537 million adults are living with diabetes, and it is predicted to rise to 643 millions by 2036
This data will tell you more about how diabetes varies country-wise.
Who can have diabetes?
Anyone can have diabetes, it’s not an age based thing. It could be due to hormonal imbalance, or lack of physical activity, eating too much sugar based food is another reason. Being overweight is also a reason for diabetes, when a person has too much abdominal fat, it could lead to diabetes. Diabetes could also be genetics based and run throughout the family.
Gestational diabetes is more common in women during pregnancy, and if it’s left untreated then it could even make delivery difficult.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance, which is generally considered a villain, but its role is to make cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D, and other metabolic functions. Lipoprotein carries it around the blood.
Cholesterol is of 2 types, Good cholesterol or HDL and bad cholesterol or LDL.
When LDL is high, it can clog up the arteries, which doesn’t sound good. LDL increases due to lack of activity, certain food, genetics, age, obesity, smoking, and abnormal levels of cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia).
Normal cholesterol levels are 200 mg/dL. Our main focus should be to increase the good cholesterol so that the heart can function properly.
Curious to know more about cholesterol? Then read my blog on cholesterol.
4: Blood pressure
It is the pressure of blood on the arteries as the heart pumps the blood. There are 2 readings that we have to focus on and these are systolic and diastolic.
Systolic is the pressure in arteries when the heart beats.
Diastolic is the pressure in arteries when the heart relaxes between beats.
The normal range is Less than 120 (systolic)/80 (diastolic)
Elevated 120-129/ less than 80
High blood pressure stage1- 130-139/ 80-89
Hypertensive crises- 180+/120+
What causes High blood pressure?
Again high blood pressure or hypertension is caused by lifestyle choices, diet high in trans fat, sodium, processed/refined food, diabetes, obesity, age-related, stress, lack of sleep, excess workout, alcohol-smoking, certain drugs, kidney disease, etc.
High blood pressure is termed as the silent killer, that’s why it’s crucial to monitor it regularly.
Hypertension damages the arteries and can even prevent the flow of blood to the heart. Increase workload can make the heart stop pumping blood.
It could even cause kidney failure, stroke, vision loss, sexual dysfunction, coronary artery disease.
Low blood pressure or hypotension is equally dangerous. Here systolic reaches below 90. It could cause weakness, fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, etc. Could be fatal if not treated on time.
5: History of ailments or disease
Family health history also provides some insights into possible heart disease. Different kinds of problems like high blood pressure, and high cholesterol run throughout the family.
Like, if your parents or siblings have a heart attack by the age of 50, then your risk also increases.
Earlier it was believed that heart attack is an issue with the elderly, but nowadays, children are also getting it. Even people who work out regularly are getting heart attacks. This could be due to various reasons like stress, diabetes, pump failure, etc. It is advisable to get diagnosed during any discomfort.
What are other reasons for heart disease?
Other reasons could be:
- Dental issues-The bacteria can reach the blood very easily
- Hormonal imbalance
- Digestive imbalance-can cause a risk of diabetes and others
- Irregular working hour
- Air pollution – Regular air pollution can build plaque in arteries
- Ignoring signs the body is giving
- Sleeping disorder-Human body needs at least 7 hours of sleep.
But the main question is
How to keep the heart healthy?
As mentioned in this blog that inactivity is one of the reasons for cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes, so make sure you involve some kind of workout in your lifestyle. It is advisable to walk for at least 30 minutes daily. If you cannot walk then, yoga, cardio, dancing, swimming, etc. are some other great ways to involve exercise in your routine.
For those who have a desk job, prolonged sitting can be dangerous for them, make sure you include short walks in between.
Food plays a major role in our well-being. People eat trans fat, simple carbs, and highly processed food, which is very bad for them. Instead, adopt healthy eating habits which could include more home-cooked meals. A rainbow diet or a diet with multiple colors is very healthy. Make sure you pick fresh ingredients always.
Please be sure, there’s no such thing as fat-burning food. It depends on your hard work and discipline if you want to lose weight.
A plant-based diet can do wonders for your health, especially the heart.
Sodium and sugar should be limited in the daily diet. We need only 2300 mg sodium a day and 24 gm sugar. Beyond that could invite unwanted diseases. Check out my blog to know more about why reading a food label is important.
Regular diagnosis and keeping tabs on cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure can save us at the right time. These tests (except blood pressure) are done by collecting a blood sample on an empty stomach.
Laughing has surprising benefits on heart health. So make sure you include laughter in your life.
Keeping your heart healthy is not that difficult after all. It majorly depends on our eating habits and lifestyle. Certain good changes are great for heart health. We need to make sure we give attention to these factors that could damage heart health and overall health.
A little bit of awareness will be very good for heart health.
In the comments tell me what you think about your heart health. Make sure you drop comments because I love receiving them.
If you want to write a blog for me then drop me an email at Devangupadhyaya421@gmail.com
Until next time, Keep smiling.