The heart is one of the three most essential organs in your body, so it’s imperative that you take good care of it. After all, you only get one. Creating healthy heart habits will not only support the organ in question but will also help you achieve a comprehensive wellness.
But what makes a healthy heart? Often when we think of a ‘healthy heart,’ we tend to only think about the physical aspects, blood pressure, heart rate, and 02 (oxygen) saturation. Just as important, however, are the emotional aspects, balanced moods, relaxation, and deep breathing.
First, let’s look at the Physical Aspects of a healthy heart:
A ‘healthy’ blood pressure is going to change slightly, person to person, but for adults, anything between 120/80 and 90/60 is considered ideal, while anything above 130/80 is deemed to be high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is crucial because ‘blood pressure’ refers to how hard your heart has to work to push blood throughout your body. The higher the number, the harder your heart has to work, and the more pressure it’s putting on the blood vessels.
Often high blood pressure is a symptom of a more significant problem in the heart. Chronic high blood pressure, such as a buildup of cholesterol, or clogged blood vessels, can lead to several dangerous conditions like heart attack, stroke, or failing kidneys. This can be scary for people, especially since there are no symptoms of high blood pressure. High blood pressure can be caused by other chronic conditions in the body such as diabetes, kidney problems, and excess weight.
High blood pressure can be acute and caused by stress, dehydration, allergic reactions, lack of sleep, trauma, or an illness like the flu. Although easier to remedy, acute blood pressure can be as dangerous as chronic high blood pressure if not addressed.
To start: get your blood pressure taken regularly, when chronically high should be taken daily, moderately high should be taken monthly or weekly. Keeping tabs can head a problem off at the beginning. Your Naturopathic Doctor can help create a health plan specific to you.
That could include:
- Changing Diet
- Incorporate heart-healthy Exercise in your daily life
- Make sure you stay Hydrated
- Reduce stress with Stress-Free Activities such as meditation, yoga, and breathing
Your Resting Heart Rate (RHR), how many times your heart beats in sixty seconds while you’re resting, can be a helpful indicator of how healthy your heart is right now. A normal RHR is anything between 60 and 100 beats per minute, but ideally, your RHR would be in the middle.
Studies have shown that an RHR on the higher side can be unhealthy and lead to cardiovascular problems later in life. It’s also a good indication that you’re carrying a lot of stress around. An excellent way to lower a high RHR is meditation, exercise (especially something that focuses on breathing, like yoga), and any other relaxation techniques that work for you.
Keep in mind though that an extremely low RHR is not healthy either, and can cause dizziness, or fatigue. A low RHR means that your blood isn’t being pumped throughout your body at the speed it needs to be, and organs/muscles, like your brain, are being deprived of oxygen. It’s all about living life in the middle when it comes to your Resting Heart Rate.
Keep an eye on it:
Check your Resting Heart Rate at home by finding your pulse and counting the beat for 30 seconds. Once you get that number, multiply it by 2 to get your beats per minute. It’s a good idea to do it a couple of times to get an accurate reading. Your heart rate will reflect your mood, so make sure that you’re in a calm environment when checking your RHR.
O2 Saturation measures how much oxygen is in your blood. Your blood carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of the cells in your body, so making sure that your blood has the proper amount of oxygen in it is crucial. Unless you’ve been having problems with shortness of breath or chest pains, it’s unlikely that you need to get your O2 Saturation tested immediately, but it can be beneficial for people with heart problems, chronic stress, or asthma to check it regularly.
Remember to Breathe:
Simple things like chronic stress and anxiety and poor breathing habits can reduce O2. When stressed, we tend to breathe shallow, which doesn’t allow for the oxygen to fill the lungs fully. Abdominal breathing is a quick, reliable method to increase oxygen in the body. Proper posture, sitting up straight with the chest open, can also help by allowing the air to fill the whole lungs.
The Physical Aspects of health are important to maintaining a healthy heart. But they aren’t the only things that you have to look at when working on a total Heart Health. So stay tuned for our next blog on the Emotional Aspects of a healthy heart.
Want to create a Healthy Heart plan geared specifically to you? Make an appointment today with Dr. Maggie Fox.