The UAE marked World Heart Day on September 29 and this highlighted the fact that heart disease is a top killer in the UAE, accounting for 37 percent of all deaths in the country. This is a very sobering statistic and emphasizes the fact that we all need to pay close attention to our heart health. The UAE is also one the top countries in the world when it comes to obesity, with obesity rates in the UAE being almost double the world average. These two facts are closely interlinked.
Here are a few strategies that you can adopt to keep your heart in good shape:
1. Avoid Smoking: Smoking is one of the biggest risk factories when it comes to heart disease as the chemicals in tobacco can cause significant damage to the heart and the associated blood vessels. The arteries become narrow and this causes plaque to build up in the arteries leading to heart attack. No form of smoking is good for your heart and this includes your regular shisha after a good meal.
2. Make regular exercise a part of your lifestyle: Getting regular exercise can have a significant impact of the condition of your heart. If you are able to exercise for about half an hour for five days out of seven days in a week, your heart is likely to be in good shape. Exercise, in general, minimizes the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol which can in the long term lead to cardiac issues. Even activities like gardening, light housekeeping and taking your dog for a walk count towards exercise. The key is to do it regularly.
3. Control your diet: Being slim and trim has a lot to do with heart health and this is where a healthy diet comes in. Juicy burgers and delicious doughnuts can be seriously tempting but these can make you pile on the pounds. Try to eat more fruits, legumes, vegetables and healthy fats like fish and olive oil. Cut down red meat and sweets. The Mediterranean diet is lauded by nutritional experts across the globe. There is nothing healthier than traditional dishes like hummus and tabbouleh. Even a small weight loss can affect your blood pressure, blood sugar and triglyceride levels dramatically.
4. Get Adequate Sleep: Those who don’t get adequate sleep are at greater risk of obesity and high blood pressure. Adults need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Sleep and wake at fixed hours to get your body used to a regular sleep schedule. If you have a snoring issue, get it treated as it can affect the quality of your sleep.
5. Manage Stress Effectively: Stress has a lot to do with the state of our heart. High levels of the stress hormone, cortisol in our blood can hamper our weight loss efforts. Many people resort to emotional eating or smoking when they are stressed. Come up with alternative strategies to manage stress properly like yoga and meditation.
6. Get Regular Checkups: Always have an idea about your numbers – your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure levels. In the event that these increase, take immediate corrective action by making changes in your lifestyle.
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