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Have a heart-healthy habit

As this is still February, the Month of Love, let’s give importance to the central figure of it all, which is equally significant as your hopes, dreams, and feelings — your heart. The heart is the physical organ that needs no introduction, as science has not discovered any alternative for it. If you have no heart, you cease to exist at all.

The importance of taking good care of the heart couldn’t be more stressed. There are tons of articles, books, blogs, videos, even TikTok clips on how to take good care of the heart. There’s no excuse to damage your heart due to lack of knowledge. As for awareness, this month was even declared by the first President Marcos as “Philippine Heart Month” by virtue of Proclamation No. 1096, signed on Jan. 9, 1973.

In the proclamation, it said that the “growing prevalence of heart cases among people should be attended to with urgency,” and that “there should be national awareness to this serious health problem through a program of emphasis and continuing research and education.”

It’s quite a surprising fact that in the early ‘70s, heart disease was already a prevalent health challenge; how much more in 2023, when more Filipinos are living a sedentary lifestyle, and consuming food rich in artificial trans-fat (which raises LDL cholesterol)?

Fifty years after that proclamation, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the Philippines. According to the Healthy Philippines Alliance (HPA), Filipinos “should show extra love for their hearts by keeping them in shape.” Still, the group reiterated that the risk factors haven’t changed — poor diet, lack of physical activity, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, etc.

To prevent heart-related ailments that may lead to worser conditions, doctors and health organizations have one thing to say: Start living a healthy lifestyle now. “Now” means “at this moment” and not some other day, like a birthday, or during summer, or whenever you feel you like it. “Now” doesn’t mean the moment when you feel any symptoms (that may already be too late) such as chest pain, high blood pressure, or shortness of breath.

To start this heart-healthy habit now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers four very simple tips to keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels normal, thus lowering your risk for heart disease and heart attack.

First, “choose healthy foods and drinks.” It means prioritizing “healthy meals and snacks… eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Avoiding foods high in saturated fat and trans-fat, and consuming foods high in fiber. Do not drink too much alcohol.”

Second, “keep a healthy weight” as overweight or obese people have a higher risk for heart disease.

Carrying extra weight can put extra stress on the heart and blood vessels. Third, “get a regular physical activity” as this can help you maintain a healthy weight. For adults, at least two hours of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling, every week.

Last, “don’t smoke.” Smoking increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease.

Reading this list is easy. Following them is hard. But always remember, prevention is better than cure.

Nothing is worse than a damaged heart in the future that could’ve been saved with a few lifestyle changes today.

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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