Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava
The heart is a strong muscular organ located in the chest, just behind and slightly left of the breastbone. It works around the clock and pumps blood and oxygen to all the organs continuously. A healthy heart is about the size of a clenched fist that beats around 1,00,000 times per day.
The heart has four valves- mitral, tricuspid, aortic, and pulmonic. Here’s a quick rundown of their importance and functions.
- Mitral valve: The function of the mitral valve is to keep the blood flowing in the right direction to pick up oxygen in the blood from the lungs.
- Tricuspid valve: The function of the tricuspid valve is to allow the blood flow from the right atrium into the right ventricle regulating the flow of blood leaving the heart.
- Aortic valve: The function of the aortic valve is to allow a trouble-free flow of blood from the heart to every part of the body. Aorta is the main artery that performs this function.
- Pulmonic valve: The function of the pulmonic valve is to prevent the reverse flow of oxygen-removed blood from the pulmonary artery back into the right ventricle.
Habits that can lead to heart complications
Heart health is mainly affected by implementing unhealthy habits in the lifestyle. These include:
- Active or passive smoking
- Poor oral hygiene
- Ignoring the habit of snoring
- Alcohol consumption
- Less physical activity
- Avoiding green vegetables
- Ignoring symptoms of heart complications
Symptoms that the heart needs attention
Being aware of the symptoms of heart diseases can help in taking necessary precautions at the right time and ignoring them can cause serious illnesses. Some symptoms of heart complications are:
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitation
- Accelerated heartbeat
- Pain in the chest, arm, or below the breastbone
- Discomfort in the jaw, throat, or arm
- A constant feeling of fullness and indigestion
- A recurring feeling of extreme tiredness
- Swelling of the ankles, feet, or stomach
- Unintentional weight gain
- Cyanosis (visible blue color to the skin, fingernails, and lips)
- Inability to workout
- Low-grade fever
Top 3 healthy heart tips
Implementing some healthy lifestyle changes can help lessen the symptoms and improve heart health. These changes can be:
- Quitting smoking and alcohol: Habits of alcohol consumption and smoking not only affect the health of the heart, but also impacts the functioning of the circulatory system, lungs, and liver. Quitting these bad habits instantly can cause extreme discomfort to the body, but it eventually improves the functioning of the heart and decreases the risk of serious conditions like cancer and heart attack.
- Exercising regularly for a healthy heart: Regular exercises are extremely beneficial as they improve cardiovascular health, regulate blood pressure, manage cholesterol levels, and also promote blood circulation. Start exercising regularly at a slow pace and gradually increase the intensity to improve heart health. Brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing outdoor sports, and skipping rope are some of the recommended exercises to improve heart health.
- Eating foods with high nutritional value: Consuming foods with high nutritional value can increase the levels of vitamins and minerals in the body, and also aid in improving heart health.
Here are the top five foods that help promote a healthy heart:
- Eat more greens: Green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, lettuce, and beans are enriched with nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Vitamin K aids in preventing calcium deposits in the arteries, vitamin C helps in managing heart palpitations, and vitamin D reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and hypertension (high blood pressure). Increasing the intake of green vegetables in the diet can improve heart health and reduce the risk of several ailments.
- Whole grains for a healthy heart: Whole-grain foods like whole wheat, brown rice, oats, rye, barley (jau ka atta), buckwheat (kuttu ka atta), and quinoa are high in fiber which reduces bad cholesterol, manages blood pressure and decreases the risk of heart disease.
- Dry fruits for a robust heart: Walnuts are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids which help in preventing heart palpitations and may also prevent blood clots. Almonds are rich in calcium, magnesium, fiber, and potassium that makes them the ideal food for promoting heart health by preventing coronary heart disease. Cashew nuts are rich in vitamin E that improves heart health by reducing the development of plaque in the arteries and allowing the blood to flow smoothly.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are enriched with an antioxidant plant pigment termed lycopene which helps in preventing oxidative damage and inflammation of the heart. Low levels of lycopene in the blood can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Thus, consuming tomatoes regularly can help prevent heart attack and reduce the chances of stroke.
- Olive oil: Enriched with antioxidants, olive oil may decrease the risk of several chronic heart complications and also aid in controlling blood pressure. Replacing regular oil with olive oil may decrease the chances of death due to heart disease.
Heart complications can be very serious and can even prove to be fatal, and therefore they should not be ignored. However, these complications are manageable and can even be prevented by undergoing an early diagnosis and taking the above-mentioned necessary precautions.
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