How to Take Good Care of Your Heart

Mar 10, 2016 06:00 AM EST | By Rhea Penaflor (

The human heart is the most important organ in the body. The moment is stops from beating, you also stop existing.  That is why it is very important to take care of our hearts, well literally and figuratively.

A healthy heart contraction happens in five stages. In the first stage (early diastole), the heart is relaxed. Then the atrium contracts (atrial systole) to push blood into the ventricle. Next, the ventricles start contracting without changing volume. Then the ventricles continue contracting while empty. Finally, the ventricles stop contracting and relax. Then the cycle repeats. 

7 Ways to Ensure That Your Heart Will Happily Beat For a Long Time:

1. Watch Your Diet.

Choose fruits and vegetables. Junk the junk food.

2. Deep Breathing.

Stress is everywhere but you need to know how to respond to it. A few minutes of deep breathing each day can lower your stress response. That's important because the less stress you feel, the less inflammation your body will produce. Find time to relax each day; try listening to music or meditating.

3. Relax and Sleep.

Research has shown those who sleep less than 6 or so hours a night have a higher risk of coronary artery calcification (a prediction of future heart disease)-but sleeping just one hour longer a night can curb this risk by 33%. Make sleep a priority.

4. Forget the Sedentary Lifestyle.

Move your ass and exercise.  If it's too much work for you, do brisk walking or other soft sports that you can handle.

5. Keep on Walking.

Have you noticed the signs in a hospital or healthcare buildings?  It says "Walking is Good for the Heart."  So, keep on walking.  Start tracking how far you walk in a typical day with a pedometer, then aim to exceed that number on a regular basis. A new study shows that an increase of just 2,000 steps a day may decrease your odds of heart disease by up to 10%.

6. Monitor Your Blood Pressure.

Use an at-home monitor (fully automatic upper arm cuffs are best) to record your blood pressure between checkups. Multiple measurements give your MD a better sense of your risk than the one reading you get at a doctor's visit. 

7. Measure Your Waist.

The best evidence is your waist size. A waist circumference of 35 inches or more is linked to a greater chance of heart problems. To determine your waist size, place a tape measure around the widest part of your waist that's not your hips (usually right below the belly button).

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