Recognize risk factors for heart problems and how to prevent heart diseases
By Kerubo Lornah
In the beginning God created the heaven and earth. According to the Bible, He created human beings on the sixth day. For mankind to be healthy God provided food fit for his consumption.
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” Genesis 1:29.
God created the human body in a special way. He did put different organs in the body- every organ with its unique function…... in this article we will learn about the heart.
What is the heart?
The heart is a muscular organ about the size of a fist, located just behind and slightly left of the breastbone.
The heart pumps blood through the network of arteries and veins called the cardiovascular system.
The heart is divided into four unique chambers namely:
- The right atrium – this chamber receives blood from the veins and pumps it to the right ventricle.
- The right ventricle – it receives blood from the right atrium and pumps it to the lungs, where it is loaded with oxygen.
- The left atrium – it receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it to the left ventricle.
- The left ventricle – this chamber is said to be the most strongest of the four. It pumps oxygen-rich blood from the rest of the body.
The heart weighs 8-10 ounces.
It beats 50-100 times a minute, 100, 000 times a day as long as you live.
Nine pints of blood are pumped by your every minute.
Around 60, 000 miles of arteries, veins and capillaries carry your blood.
The heart is very a powerful part in the human body. However, it is attacked by various ailments like Angina Pectoris, Arrhythmia, cardiac failure and Myocardial infarction among others if it not fed well.
Primary risk factors of the heart disease:
According to the Framingham study of 1948, the following are the primary risk factors for heart disease:
Obesity – being overweight will increase the chances of one getting heart problem.
Cigarette smoking- the more cigarettes smoked, the greater the risk for heart disease. The risk of heart attack or angina pectoris is increased about 70% in smokers. Smoking constricts the blood vessels of the heart and increase blood pressure
Hypertension- the higher the blood pressure the greater the risk. According to Dr. Peter N. Landless, chronic high blood pressure accelerates the disease process in the coronary arteries and places undue strain on the heart muscle itself, making it thicken and eventually lose its flexibility and ability to function adequately. Heart failure follows.
High blood pressure may cause: headache, breathlessness, dizziness, disturbed vision or most frequently no symptoms (blood pressure is a silent killer)
High blood cholesterol- the higher the cholesterol, the greater the risk.
According to Richard J. B Willis the author of How to postpone your heart attack and Your health is in your hands cholesterol is influenced by some factors namely:
- Liver converts saturated fat to cholesterol.
- Cholesterol is also absorbed directly from food.
- Obesity, genetics, and other dietary factors influence the amount.
Secondary risk factors for heart disease:
According to the Framingham study of 1948, the following are the secondary risk factors for heart disease:
Physical inactivity – the less exercise taken, the greater the risk.
Low HDL cholesterol – having low amounts of the protective HDL cholesterol can be as harmful as having high levels of the damaging LDL cholesterol.
Diabetes – people with diabetes have a 4-7 times higher risk of coronary heart disease. The blood vessels of the heart are damaged by excess blood sugar, they lose their elasticity plaque deposits.
Stress – stress, in most people, will increase the risk of heart disease. Stresses may be due to role or status in a community, work, home or relationships in general posing a regular and consistent threat to health with the heart as a ‘target organ’.
Alcohol intake – alcohol adversely affects the functions of the heart muscle and contributes to chronic disease of the heart muscle which eventually leads to heart failure.
Oestrogen use – it increases the risk of abnormal blood clotting so should not be used by people with a family history of heart conditions or those about to undergo surgery. The use of oestrogen drugs may increase a hypertension risk.
Cardinal principles for a healthy heart
- Trust in divine power. Be hopeful. Know that God is your Creator, and that He is in control of all life’s situations.
- Take clean water at least eight glasses per day.
- Ensure that you eat five portions of fresh fruits a day.
- Eat at least one fresh vegetable salad a day dressed with olive oil or seed oil.
- Reduce salt intake. The body needs about 1 gram a day found mostly in foods as grown.
- Avoid or reduce sugar in your diet.
- Choose complex carbohydrates (whole meal, wholegrain items) but avoid overeating. Eat whole-grain bread. Avoid white bread and refined pasta.
- Avoid tobacco, tea, and coffee. Avoid the side-stream smoke of others.
- Exercise for at least 40 minutes each day.
- Know your weight. Maintain your ideal weight.
- Eliminate dairy products and eggs because they contain cholesterol.
8 Powerful foods for the heart:
According to Forvie Site University at Cambridge (UK) a diet based on fruits, oil bearing nuts, legumes, vegetables and whole grains simply prepared gives the best results for the heart ailments prevention.• Bananas
It is very rich in potassium.
It has recommended sodium.
A diet rich in potassium and low sodium prevents arterial hypertension, arrhythmia, stroke and even cancer.• Hibiscus
It is known to protect the endothelium, the inner layer of the arteries, which prevents arteriosclerosis. It has been confirmed that the Hibiscus tea reduces stress in patients who suffer from high blood pressure.
A study carried by Tufts University (Boston, United States), after six weeks of drinking three cups of hibiscus tea, high blood pressure significantly lowered.
The hibiscus tea is made through infusion of the hibiscus. It is usually taken cold.• Ginger and Turmeric infusions
The two are known in regulating low blood pressure.
The ginger and turmeric infusion helps to normalize blood pressure when it is low.• Carrots
In case of arteriosclerosis, carrot juice is recommended.
Carrot prevents cholesterol from oxidizing and damaging the arteries.
Research conducted at Texas University (United States) showed that participants who drunk a glass of carrot juice every day for three months recovered from arteriosclerosis.
Carrot juice protects the inner layer of arteries.• Walnuts
It is a nut with highest caloric contents.
They provide energy to the heart.
They are highly concentrated food containing high levels of essential fatty acids, vitamin B6, Zinc, copper and manganese.• Kales
A study conducted at the Yonsei University of Seoul (Korea) shows that individuals who drink 150ml of kale juice each day for twelve weeks improve their levels of cholesterol and lipid in the blood, improve their antioxidant capacity hence reduced risk of coronary disease of heart attack.
Kale juice mixed with coconut water of lime juice also protect the arteries of the heart because it is full of healthy properties.• Cherimoya fruit
It is also known as custard apple, Anona or Sherbet-fruit
It strengthens the heart.
It contains vitamins B1 and B2 which is very good for the heart.
It has minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, iron and potassium.
It is a therapeutic fruit for heart failure, stomach ailments and obesity.• Broccoli
Also known as Asparagus broccoli, Calabrese.
It is an ideal vegetable for heart patients.• Garden pea
It has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which enhance a healthy blood vessels.
They contain vitamin B1 and folate, B2, B3 and B6 which helps in reducing homocysteine levels which are otherwise risky to your heart.• Grape
Grapes are very good to your heart for various reasons:
They reduce risk of blood clots.
Preventing damage to blood vessels
They help in marinating a healthy body pressure.• Macadamia
They contain monounsaturated fatty acids which can make platelets less sticky and less likely to form clots in the blood. This prevents heart attack or stroke.
They lower blood pressure which leads to a healthy heart.• Peach
Peach strengthens your immune system.
They contain a unique combination of bioactive compounds that reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases - using peach juice instead of taking products with sugar lowers the risk of heart complications.
They contain fiber, vitamin C and potassium which ensure good heart health.
What to include in your diet in case of:
1. A stressed heart
The heart suffers when it is subjected to physical or mental stress and requires supply of certain nutrients.
According to George D. Pamplona- Roger who is a physician, surgeon and expert in public health, in his book Health Juices, when the heart finds itself under stress, it needs help in the form of vitamins, fatty acids, amino acids, and natural sugars in ideal proportions.
He writes that beside the energizing effect of peaches, the cactus fruit or prickly pear is able to improve heart performance.
It has been observed that consumption of cactus fruit increase the volume of blood pumped in each heartbeat and, in this way, reduces the number of beats per minute that the heart must render when it copes with strain or stress.
2. Angina Pectoris This occurs as result of spasms or reversible narrowing of coronary arteries.
Increase:Grapes, Walnuts, onion, whole grains, barley, Rye, potato, peach, strawberry, squash, zucchini, cashew and mangoes.
Reduce or eliminate:Saturated fat and sodium
3. Myocardial infarctionThis occurs when there is a complete obstruction of artery or one of its branches.
Increase:Fruits, legumes, vegetables, grapes, walnuts, soy, chickpeas, garden peas, artichoke, strawberry, squash, peach, mangoes, macadamia, potato, wheat barn, olive oil, antioxidants, vitamin A and foods rich in fiber.
EliminateMeat, iron, saturated fat, cholesterol, sausages, ham, margarine, butter, fried foods, milk, dairy products, alcohol beverages, white sugar and sodium.
4. ArrhythmiaThis is an alteration in the heartbeat rhythm.
IncreaseCalcium, magnesium, potassium and essential oils.
Avoid:Stimulant beverages, alcohol beverages and saturated fats.
5. Cardiac Failure
It is as a result of inability of the heart to pump the necessary volume of blood
IncreaseWalnuts, cherimoya, garden pea, broccoli, and cherry fruits
Sodium and alcohol beverages.
Disclaimer: the above information is for education purpose and is not intended to replace medical functions of a health professional in anyway, either in diagnosing or treating medical conditions. The writer of the article will not take responsibility arising from the inappropriate use of the foods stated therein.