Insight into your health ensures that you can intervene in time in the event of the threat of cardiovascular disease. Knowing what to look for may prevent irreversible damage to the heart or brain.
How can you measure your health?
You often already have a reasonable idea of your own health. Maybe you can easily run a half marathon. Maybe you are often tired or very restless and you are not feeling well. Having these kinds of (vague) symptoms does not mean that you suffer from heart.
1. Keep an eye on your BMI and your abdominal circumference
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) combined with your waist circumference give you an idea whether you have a healthy weight or not. If you suffer from serious obesity you have a greater chance of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The risk of cardiovascular disease is therefore higher. You are also more likely to develop diabetes.
If you have a BMI above 25, you are probably overweight. However, that does not have to be the case for everyone. . Accumulation of a lot of fat in the abdominal cavity increases the risk of hair and vascular diseases.
Note: BMI can distort
Know that the BMI formula does not take fat and muscle mass into account. Someone with a lot of muscle mass can be heavier and can end up being overweight in the BMI table, while that may not be justified. It is also less suitable for pregnant women and people who have a different physique than the average European. Nobody is the same! It is a guideline and does not have to apply 100% to you.
2: Keep an eye on your blood levels and cholesterol
You can have blood sampled via (or at) your doctor. This gives a picture of various blood values, such as the cholesterol level. In the case of an elevated cholesterol level, your body produces too much cholesterol. An increased cholesterol level can lead to arterial calcification.
When is your cholesterol too high?
Keep in mind that it is always a snapshot and the value can fluctuate considerably. If your value is above 5, then your cholesterol is increased. You do not notice an increased cholesterol level. That is why it is wise to have a blood test done regularly to know how you are doing. Fortunately, there are enough measures that you can take yourself to ensure that your cholesterol goes down.
The effect of elevated cholesterol
If you have too much cholesterol in your body for a longer period of time, this may attach to your blood vessels. In other words: your blood vessels become thinner. As a result, your heart has to work much harder to pump enough blood around your body. Your veins can even clog up. Do you want to know how your blood levels and cholesterol are doing? Then a laboratory examination by Prescan misscien does offer a solution. Ask for the possibilities without obligation.
3: Keep an eye on your blood pressure
You can measure your blood pressure yourself with a blood pressure monitor, but also through or at a specialist such as your doctor. Measure at set times in the morning, afternoon and evening every day for a week and write down the values.
If your blood pressure is 120 above 90 on average, you have a normal value. The target value is below 140/90 mmHg. If your home measurement is 135/90, your blood pressure is probably too high. A home measurement is generally slightly lower than measurement at the specialist.
Watch your diet
If you know how your health is doing, it is important to look at your eating habits. Do you eat healthy? Do you get the right nutrients? Wrong eating habits increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
4: Avoid eating too much salt
Eating a lot of salt raises blood pressure. An additional effect is that your heart is busier to pump blood around.
Check the product packaging to find out how much salt it contains and compare different products (brands) with each other. Of course choose the product with the least salt! In any case, it is wise to avoid ready-made meals, sauces and snacks as much as possible. Products of this type generally contain a lot of added salt.
5: Alternate in your diet
If you eat a varied diet, it is much more likely that you will receive more unsaturated fats than saturated fats. And what about the fibers you need? These ensure that your digestive system remains in order and that the cholesterol level stays up to scratch. This type of fiber is found in whole-grain products and legumes, for example.
What you are used to eating
You have often used certain eating habits for yourself. Try to see if you can break it. For example, eat fish one day, meat the other day and then vegetarian again. One day eat a bowl of (home-made) muesli with low-fat yogurt, oatmeal the other day and two whole-grain cheese sandwiches the next.
6: Opt for unsaturated fats
As indicated, varied eating increases the chance that you will get more unsaturated than saturated fats. If your menu consists of too much saturated fat, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases.
For example, opt for a handful of unsalted nuts more often than a bag of chips. Choose lean and semi-skimmed dairy products rather than full. Cook with oil more often. With regard to meat, for example, it is better to use ground beef more often than half-to-half ground beef.
7: Eat vegetables and fruit
For some, this may be difficult … After all, those chocolate cakes and chips taste a lot better than steamed broccoli. Yet it is very important if you want to prevent cardiovascular disease as much as possible to eat fruit and vegetables. For example, vegetables contain important fibers, vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy.
How much fruit and vegetables?
The rule of thumb is at least 250 grams of vegetables per day and 2 pieces of fruit. The latter corresponds to approximately 200 grams. Are you crazy about vegetables? Then do not compensate by eating more fruit. You may then get too many sugars and too few nutrients that are not in fruit.
How do you increase your intake?
Make a salad once for your lunch. Buy grapes or a box of candy vegetables such as cherry tomatoes as a snack. These are tasty and healthy snacks for in the car or at your workplace. Maybe vegetable smoothies are a good alternative for you?
8: Drink enough every day
Enough drinking keeps your body in good condition. For example, it is important for the functioning of your intestines. Rule of thumb is at least 1.5 liters per day. That includes water, tea, milk and coffee. Make a note for yourself if you get that amount. It does not of course mean that you have to drink soda, sports or energy drinks all day. Drink this as little as possible.
9: Be careful with alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol is harmful to health. Keep it at most on one glass of alcohol per day. This is because excessive alcohol consumption in the long term leads to a higher risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, but also other conditions.
10: Avoid (long-term) stress
If you are under constant stress, this can, among other things, lead to increased blood pressure. But not only work pressure plays a role in this. Feelings of anxiety, extreme urge to control and situations over which you lose control also increase your stress level.
And what about the hectic existence that we often lead today? The children, the household, staying up-to-date on social media, a party here, a networking drink there.
The risk of heart complaints, a heart attack or cardiac arrhythmia is increased if you are dealing with a severe stress situation, such as the death of a loved one.
Lower your stress level
Try to lower your stress level. Relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, yoga and exercise (tip 11) can help you with this. Choose a healthy lifestyle and try to maintain a fixed daily routine.
Go outside and take the time for the things that energize you. Call in a professional if necessary, or follow a conversation or group therapies.
The symptoms of stress vary per person. These are for example:
- An accelerated heartbeat
- Irregular breathing
- Being tired and without energy
- Low appetite
- Some also suffer from muscle pain, excessive perspiration, sleep disorders and dizziness.
11: Ensure adequate exercise
A good condition is good for your overall health. You thereby reduce the risk of all sorts of disorders. If you exercise enough, you lower your blood pressure and keep your heart and blood vessels in shape. The chance of a stroke and cardiovascular disease is therefore a lot lower.
How much do you have to move?
Try to exercise moderately intensively for at least half an hour every day. That is different for every person. In any case, you have to put your heart to work properly and your breathing should become a little harder (you don’t have to get out of breath).
So it depends on your condition when this applies to you. For someone with a poor condition, cycling at a low speed can already be intensive. You do not necessarily have to move for 30 minutes. Twice fifteen minutes or three times 10 minutes is also fine.
Exercise or not?
Exercising helps lower your stress level and keep your body weight up to scratch. You get a better condition, which in turn has a positive effect on your heart and blood vessels. Choose a sport that suits you and that you like. This way you avoid throwing the towel in the ring and not getting off the couch again.
Do you suffer from physical complaints such as heart problems, high blood pressure or a lot of overweight? Ask a specialist for advice before you start exercising.
Healthy Exercise Standard (NNGB)
The Dutch Standard for Healthy Exercise (NNGB) indicates the minimum number of people that have to exercise to stay healthy. Based on normal health, that is:
- From 18 years: 30 minutes of moderate intensive exercise.
- Under 18 years of age: 1 hour of moderately intensive exercise per day.
All this for at least 5 days a week (preferably 7).
12: Stop smoking
Even if you have passed 50 and have smoked every day: it is always worth stopping. Also try to avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible.
Of course you know that smoking is harmful to your health. It is a fact that smoking entails a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke. People who smoke along also have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.