I won’t be surprised if one of your health goals (do you have them?) is to keep your heart healthy. A healthy heart is a happy heart. I am pretty sure you’ve read or heard a lot of tips about how to make sure your heart stays healthy so you can get on with your routine without cardiac arrest messing it up.
Often, health is a choice. There’s a common misconception that heart disease is the special privilege of the elderly. Yet, I can tell you from personal experience that heart attacks are impartial and have no qualms about hitting people of any age. Why, I remember it, like it happened yesterday – my friend’s two-year old was out playing in the yard and suddenly collapsed. They rushed her to the hospital in a panic to discover she had had a heart attack. After being in intensive care for a couple of days, the dear child passed away. Devastated does not even come close to describing how the parents felt.
Which brings us to the relevant question: Can we prevent a heart attack?
Yes. Most of the time. But there is a big caveat – your personal lifestyle choices, which can have a big impact on your risk for heart attacks. The good news is, there are plenty of little things you can do to be healthy.
I am not here to give you those tips.
I am, in fact, here to show you five easy ways to absolutely ruin your heart. I’ll then leave it to you to decide what you want to do. Or not.
Here we go.
Five ways to murder your heart
Smoke. Or hang around with a smoker
For the smoker, the exorbitant cost of the smoking habit does not matter. The statutory warning everywhere is invisible. All those documentaries related to the dangers of smoking seem like so much boring stuff. Being banned from smoking in public is like “bah, big deal”.
Fact one: smoking is probably the worst way to screw up your heart and your lungs.
Fact two: The smoking habit is totally reversible.
Think about it.
Think about quitting.
If you quit the smoking habit, and avoid being a passive smoker (that’s hanging around with those who smoke), your risk for heart disease is lower.
So kick that butt. Or kick your friend’s butt.
Load up on Trans fats
Supermarkets arrange their products in a certain pattern. And there’s a complete section to tempt you with bakery stuff, pastries, and all sorts of yum stuff. And? They are guaranteed to stay fresh for six or twelve months. How cool is that? Ever wondered how they stay eternally fresh? It is the trans fats that keep them looking young. Trans fats are those age defying devils that repel you from fresh food and attract you to the good looks of zero nutrition while sneakily screwing your cholesterol levels.
You could say NO to Trans fats, because you know they are villains just out to make you believe that all that glitters is gold. By saying NO, you can reduce your risk for heart disease. When you shop, you can read the food label and check the trans fat content, which should preferably read 0%.
Will you say NO?
Bomb yourself with salt
Do you cook? Do you add the salt when you cook your dish? Don’t. If you can’t, at least taper the amount of salt you add. Salt is a slow killer which develops silent diseases. Reducing your salt-intake can keep your blood pressure at safe levels. Salt is just like make up. Did you know you can survive without salt? Yes, you can. Will you? To cut down on salt, you can use garlic, pepper or oregano seasoning. Try it. Switch to table salt if you HAVE to – I mean literally add salt when you eat by sprinkling a pinch over your food. But only if you HAVE to.
Become fat or obese
Yes. Just add on those pounds indiscriminately. Grow out of your clothes. No, it is not cute. Easy, but gross. The best way to add unhealthy weight is by gorging on processed food, eating lots more than you need and send in your entry for “couch potato of the year” award. And pay the price. As you add the inches to your waistline, you add layers of risk to your heart. Unless you are immune to aging. Age slows down the metabolism, warning us to be mindful of what we at and stay active.
Check your weight. Need to lose some? Take action. Help your blood pressure, blood sugar and your cholesterol stay at healthy levels. This trio depend on each other to keep you healthy. Shed those pounds. For a start, just walk briskly every day for twenty minutes. Feel the difference.
Skip your medication
Are you on medication for a health condition? Then forget to take them. Maybe they’re expensive but why should you care? Medication is boring. Even if it helps you manages your condition, right? Wrong! You know medication is prescribed to make you better, so if you are careless about taking it, you not only lose the dose, but also the benefit. So maybe you want to get better very, very slowly. If your condition is diabetes, I’d just say Oh-My-God and leave it at that. Unfortunately, heart disease likes to surprise you. So many people don’t even know they’re suffering from it. If you took the initiative to see the doc, please follow through by taking your meds. Or don’t. It is your choice. Although why you would torture yourself is beyond me.
Did any of the above make you feel guilty?
Just make the change now. You can do it.
After all, you only have one body. Take care of it!
Very well written. I just saw Dr. Andrew Weil speak. I really liked what he had to say about good health. In fact I’m going to write a post about it.
2. Good nutrition
I always forget you have this blog! How do you do it all?
Hi Betsy – 🙂 I just read your post about Dr Weil and it is great. I’ve read his work before.
Yes – the three you listed are just perfect and basic!
Thanks for coming by. 🙂 Hugs, Vidya
Fascinating post Vidya. You put it together so well and remind us what we need to be mindful of. We can’t put too high a price on our health…it’s something we can’t buy and yet by paying attention to little details we can stay in great shape.
Life feels so much better when we do. Thanks for this reminder.
Thank you, Elle. You’re absolutely right – sometimes it only takes some small changes to enjoy big benefits. Hugs! Vidya
Vidya- Great post. Focusing on what ‘not to do’ acts as a powerful reminder. It is so easy to fall back on old patterns if you don’t stay mindful. The good news is when you have a healthy life style and your break it, your body feels it big time.
I’ve never heard of a 2 year old dying of a heart attack. What an unusual profile. xxoo-Fran
Dear Fran – yes, our body is quick to pick up habits – and because of this, it is easy to adopt good ones.
Oh, that 2-year old kid’s story is such a tragedy, Fran. Her Mom hasn’t gotten over it 🙁 Very sad.
Thank you for your offer. Please email me at vidzword at gmail dot com with the topics you would like to propose. 🙂 I look forward to hearing from you.
So glad everyone I know has quit smoking!
I really like your take on this topic. often times, we scream from the roof top about advantages of doing certain things but never about the disadvantages if you don’t do a certain thing.. This is the best way to pique people’s interest. Thanks for sharing.
Love this, especially about the cholesterol… Mine was elevated and I was able to drop my total cholesterol by 40 points just dieting alone, no meds! My dad had a heart attack last year so I really try to keep mine healthy just in case! Thanks, Vidya!