A Healthy Heart!

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This year, World Heart Day will be celebrated on September 29. This is part of an international campaign to spread awareness about heart disease and stroke prevention. It aims to encourage people of all ages to change for a healthier lifestyle and keep our heart in good working order. Over the past five years cardiovascular disease was found to be the second leading cause of death in Brunei. And the World Heart Federation have also found that heart disease and strokes are the world’s leading cause of death, killing 17.1 million people every year – that’s more than victims of cancer, HIV and AIDS and malaria.

To prevent these health problem from happening to you or your family members, here are the few things you should start taking note from today -:

Eat Smart
Adopt a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. The high intake of fibre from plants, especially soluble fibre, is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, eat oily fish two or three times a week and choose small portions of lean meats. Avoid trans fats (from partially hydrogenated oils). Limit sugary foods and refined carbohydrates, such as white pasta.
Reduce your salt intake
For most adults the recommended daily limit is about two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt. Reducing your salt intake can be accomplished only by cutting way back on processed foods, restaurant meals and fast foods.

Control your blood sugar
People with diabetes are at greater risk for heart attack and stroke than people without it. If you have prediabetes or diabetes, you have to be extremely careful about controlling your blood sugar through diet, weight loss, exercise and medication if necessary.

Staying active and maintain a healthy weight
Being very overweight increases your risk for heart disease. Exercise protects against heart disease in many ways -: by helping the heart work more efficiently, reducing blood pressure, raising HDL cholesterol, decreasing the tendency of blood to form clots, moderating stress, helping the body use insulin and helping people maintain a healthy weight. Walk briskly or do other aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes most days; more will be even better.

Monitor your cholesterol
According to health experts you should aim to control your cholesterol levels within the following limits -: LDL (“bad”) cholesterol should be less than 130 mg/dL; your HDL (“good”) cholesterol should be at least 50 for women and 40 for men. Diet and exercise can help. Your total blood cholesterol should be less than 200. Triglycerides (blood fats) should be less than 150 mg/dL, optimally less than 100 mg/dL.

Be aware of hypertension
Know your blood pressure and keep it under control. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Diet and exercise can help you keep prehypertension from developing into full-blown hypertension, or at least delay it by many years.

Do not smoke
Smoking is the worst thing you can do to your heart (and to nearly all your organs and those of people around you). No level of smoking is safe.

Don’t let stress get the better of you
Do what you can to treat depression and reduce stress. Being chronically depressed may increase your risk for a heart attack. Lifestyle changes, such as getting regular exercise, can also help.

Know your family history
For example, a heart attack in your father or brother before age 55, or in your mother or sister before age 65 raises your risk substantially. You can’t change that, but it should make you pay special attention to your other risk factors and encourage you to take more aggressive steps to control them.

This article was published in the Jul-Sept 2016 issue of Inspire Magazine. Download it here!


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