What’s Troubling Your Heart?

Heart Attack Symptoms

115,200. That is how many times our heart beats in a day on average to pump oxygen for the entire body[1]. Every beat sustains our life. We will not be able to function normally without a healthy beating heart yet we often take it for granted.

How often have you, or the people around you trivialized any form of body discomfort? It is easy to get caught up with the hustle and bustle of everyday lives and neglect our body condition. Occasional dizziness, chest tightness or shortness of breath is nothing but mere fatigue.

Truth to be told, such seemingly minor symptoms are warning signals that your heart is sending you[2]. It is worthwhile to observe your body more closely and ensure you have adequate rest, especially when they are recurring problems.

Heart disease is a silent killer. Based on Singapore’s Annual Death Statistics in 2018, heart-related diseases occupy 4 out of 10 principal causes of death[3]. 1 out of 3 deaths is due to heart problems[4].  Contrary to common belief that cardiovascular diseases only affect seniors, there has been a growing incidence of heart problems in young adults.

 

Uncovering the Heart Attack

Increasing Heart Problems

The modern-day living is associated with many high-risk factors behind heart-related conditions. Stress, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption among others are cited as common causes of heart problems.

While dealing with stress is a part and parcel of life, it can be dangerous without proper management. Prolonged exposure to stress prompts our body to release high level of hormones called cortisol to stimulate bodily functions, and in turn causes a spike in blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar level – the “three highs”.

Singaporeans are no strangers to the three highs. 1 in 9 are diagnosed with diabetes, 1 in 6 with high cholesterol and 1 in 4 with high blood pressure[5]. These alarming statistics do not bode well for our general health. With the three highs being major contributors of heart attacks, how can we prevent ourselves from being faint hearted?

Building a Strong Heart 

food that is good for the heart

We know the importance of a healthy diet, but what exactly is good for our heart?

  • Potassium

A mineral that stimulates important muscles involved in regulating heartbeat and breathing, useful in controlling blood pressure and protecting the body against stroke[6]. Fruits such as pomegranates, bananas and avocadoes contain a high amount of potassium. While bananas are recognized to be an ideal post-workout snack, pomegranates contain 3 times more potassium than bananas.

  • Anthocyanins

It belongs to the subgroup of flavonoids, believed to help in maintaining cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of coronary heart diseases[7]. They are found in cranberries, wild blueberries and apples. Among them, cranberries contain 4 times more anthocyanins than apples. One serving of cranberry a day, keeps your heart problems away!

  • Polyphenols

A type of plant-based compound that is found to be effective in reducing the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases based on research[8]. Dietary sources including tea, citrus fruit juices and red wine are rich in polyphenols. Within the tea category, purple tea contains 2 times more polyphenols than green tea even though the latter is widely known to be a health-boosting beverage. Flavonoids, a sub-group of polyphenols, are present in different berries such as elderberries, blueberries and strawberries. Specifically, elderberries contain 2.5 times more flavonoid content than strawberries.

You must be scratching your head with all these terms right now. Take it one step at a time. Get started by taking more servings of fruits and vegetables, you will not go wrong with that. They are rich in antioxidants that enhance your immune system and protect your organs, especially the heart, against toxins. However, not all fruits are made equal.

Berries are among the healthiest fruits on earth. Aroniaberries, in particular, lead the pack in terms of antioxidant capacity with 3 times higher than that of strawberries. On the other hand, muscadine grapes contain 40 times higher antioxidant capacity than an average grape you get from the grocery store. (Fun fact: grape is botanically a type of berry!)

It is time to go for some grocery shopping and load up your pantry with more wholesome fruits, and less chips. If you are a habitual snack-er who needs some jaw exercises to survive through the day, resist unhealthy temptation with some natural dried fruits instead.

A small step goes a long way for your heart!

 

[1] How many times do your heart beat in a lifetime? Wonderopolis Source
[2] Mayo Clinic Source
[3] Health Hub Principal Causes of Deaths Source
[4] Ministry of Health Source
[5] 5 Common Health Problems in Singapore And What To Do About Them. MSIG Source
[6] American Heart Association Source
[7] Anthocyanins and Heart Health. National Library of Medicine Source
[8] Plant Polyphenols in Prevention of Heart Disease. National Library of Medicine Source
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