September 23 2021
The human heart is the organ that pumps the blood throughout our body with the help of the circulatory system and supplies oxygen and nutrients to tissues. It is also responsible for the removal of carbon dioxide and other waste products from the body. It is located in the middle (slightly bent towards the left of the breastbone) of the chest area, between the lungs.
The human heart has a total of four chambers- right atrium, left atrium, right ventricle, and right ventricle. All of these chambers are involved in moving the blood through it. The coronary arteries run along the surface of the heart and provide oxygenated blood to the muscles of the heart. Contraction and relaxation of the heart are governed by nerve tissues that run through the heart and conduct complex signals.
What are the common conditions that may affect the heart?
- Myocardial infarction: also known as heart attack, this condition is responsible for the sudden blockage in the arteries. Some parts of the muscles in the heart die as a result of oxygen deprivation.
- Arrhythmia or dysrhythmia: this condition is associated with abnormal heart rhythm due to the occurrence of changes during the conduction process of electrical impulses in the heart. Some cases of this condition may be dangerous to life while some of them may be benign.
- Coronary artery disease: the plaques formed due to the accumulation of high levels of cholesterol, may make the arteries narrower, which affect the blood supply. Narrowed arteries may also lead to a complete blockage, i.e. a heart attack.
- Angina pectoris: the narrowed arteries are the main cause of this condition, and it is mainly identified by predictable pain in the chest area and discomfort during the time of excretion. The blockage in arteries limits the supply of oxygen to the heart, which causes problems during strenuous activities.
- Congestive heart failure: the heart either becomes too weak or too stiff to efficiently pump blood throughout the body. The two most common symptoms of this condition are shortness of breath and swelling in the legs.
- Endocarditis: endocarditis is a condition that is characterized by inflamed or swollen inner linings of the heart and is usually caused due to serious infections in heart valves.
- Heart murmur: heart murmurs are the abnormal sounds heard while listening to the heartbeats with the help of a stethoscope. These may suggest heart disease in some of the cases.
How to keep your heart healthy?
- Say no to smoking: avoiding consumption of tobacco is one of the best ways to safeguard the heart. Out of all the controllable factors that increase the risks of heart disease, smoking is on the top. If a person quits smoking, the chances of heart diseases are reduced significantly, research suggests. It makes a huge positive difference, not just on the heart but on the overall health of the person.
- Omega-3s: consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with better heart health. Salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring are some of the richest sources of omega-3s. Many doctors and other healthcare professionals suggest consuming fish once or twice a week for better heart functioning.
- One may also use dietary supplementation of fish oil, such as alvizia’s alenfish. Other than heart benefits, It helps fight inflammation, hyperlipidemia, curing cramps during the menstrual cycle, enhancing bone density and structure; enhance brain functions, skin, and hair.
- Stretch, stretch, and stretch: yoga and other forms of stretching exercises enhance flexibility, strength, and fitness. Yoga also has some potential benefits that may enhance heart health. According to research, yoga also helps in reducing the risks of many cardiovascular diseases that may be life-threatening.
- Make healthy choices: moderate consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine has proved to be effective in enhancing heart health. It may increase the levels of HDL or good cholesterol, prevent the formation of blood clots, and reduce risks of artery damage. However, too much red wine may also have adverse negative effects on liver health, so it must be consumed only in moderation.
- Reduce salt intake: high levels of salt intake has been associated with higher risks of coronary heart disease. Processed foods usually have a higher content of salt, so, it is advised to reduce their consumption as much as possible. High levels of sodium elevate the levels of blood pressure, causing hypertension which may lead to heart problems in the long run.
- Keep a check on yourself: it is very important to keep a check on levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar levels, and mainly, blood pressure. They must be compared with the levels ideal for your age and sex. If higher than those, it must be controlled as these high levels may lead to an unhealthy heart.
Foods that enhance heart health
- Green vegetables: leafy and green vegetables like spinach, kale, etc are popularly known for the antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins they possess. They are also a great source of vitamin K, which helps protect the arteries and promote proper blood clotting. Research has found out that a high intake of leafy green vegetables is also associated with a 16 percent lower risk of heart diseases.
- Whole grains: rice, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat, and quinoa are some of the popularly consumed whole grain cereals. When compared to refined grains, these have a high content of fiber, which is pretty beneficial in reducing the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol. It is beneficial to add more and more whole grains to your dietary intake, as suggested by research studies.
- Fatty fish: Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are rich sources of omega-3s, which are known to have properties that benefit heart health. A research study was carried out among 324 people, who were given salmon thrice a week and at the end of the study, it was observed that these people had significant reductions in the blood pressure levels, hence, considering it beneficial for the heart.
- Walnuts: they’re a great source of fiber, magnesium, copper, and manganese. Research shows that consuming walnuts may help in reducing risk factors of heart diseases.