World Heart Day serves as a reminder of the importance of heart health. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) remain a leading cause of fatalities worldwide, accounting for approximately 17.9 million lives yearly.
In Singapore, heart disease accounted for 31.4% of fatalities in the year 2022. The most common heart disease affecting both men and women in the country is ischaemic heart disease, also known as coronary heart disease. The World Health Organization found that coronary heart disease is one of the leading causes of fatalities in Singaporean men and women. Common risk factors for this condition include diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and leading a sedentary lifestyle.
What is striking is that much of these chronic diseases are avoidable with lifestyle changes. Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle is essential more than ever. The doctors at Osler Health are always keen to promote a lifestyle medicine approach, so here is insight into how to improve your heart health!
Lifestyle recommendations to improve your heart health
Taking proactive steps to improve your lifestyle can profoundly impact your heart health.
Consuming healthy food for the heart is one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle. As such, your diet should consist of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables over processed foods full of high in salt and preservatives. Whole foods contain antioxidants, which can help lower inflammation—a key factor in heart disease.
If you want healthy protein, you can choose fatty fish, such as sardines, mackerel, and salmon. They are packed with omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and lower bad cholesterol levels. Almonds, walnuts, and flaxseeds are other excellent sources of omega-3 and other healthy fats.
As much as possible, avoid high sugar consumption as it causes obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure—all significant risk factors for heart disease.
Make exercise a regular part of your routine, and try to avoid long periods of inactivity. Generally, the recommended time for exercise is at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. Activities like brisk walking, swimming, and cycling are excellent choices. You can also include some form of resistance or strength training in your exercise regime, as it builds muscle mass and improves metabolic health.
Managing stress effectively is crucial for heart health, as stress hormones can affect your cardiovascular system. Try to maintain a balanced life, as overworking and high stress contribute to high blood pressure and heart problems. You can also learn techniques to help you cope with stress, like mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises. Another way to manage stress better is to make time for family and friends and engage in social activities that give you joy and relaxation. Social connections can be a natural buffer against stress and even improve heart health. Learn more about identifying the signs of stress and how to deal with it healthily.
Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night. Poor sleep patterns can lead to problems like increased blood pressure and weight gain, both of which are risk factors for heart disease. It’s recommended that you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to significantly improve your sleep quality. Create a comfortable, dark, and cool environment, and avoid electronic gadgets at least an hour before bedtime to improve sleep quality. Furthermore, limit your consumption of caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, as they can interfere with your sleep cycle.
Smoking and alcohol
Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. If you need support to help you quit smoking, our medical clinic in Singapore provides a Smoking Cessation Programme for those who need support.
If you consume alcohol frequently, make sure to do it in moderation. Excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, and even a stroke.
Maintain a heart healthy lifestyle & partner with Osler Health
Avoid waiting for symptoms of heart disease to appear before changing your lifestyle. Prevent the effects of heart disease from occurring beforehand by living healthily and undergoing regular heart check-ups from a trusted medical clinic in Singapore, like Osler Health.
At Osler Health, we are committed to providing comprehensive healthcare solutions that go beyond just treating diseases. We offer health screenings aimed at identifying risks early and personalised advice on nutrition, exercise, and stress management. That way, you can continue to live an optimal quality of life and reduce the possibility of developing heart disease.
For those diagnosed with heart conditions, our team of family doctors will work with you to formulate an effective treatment plan that considers your lifestyle, needs, and constraints. We strive to work closely with you on chronic disease management to minimise the risk of severe symptoms or outcomes. Schedule an appointment with us today.