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Your valentine deserves a healthy heart

Source: Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

This long Valentine weekend, many people will have stories to share; a pounding heart or chest pain from love or infatuation or even love gone bad. Many others may have similar experiences because of an empty wallet and for another group these experiences are purely from heart disease. No matter the cause of your symptoms, if it persists without the appropriate intervention you will be asking for trouble.

A “silent” heart does not necessarily mean all is well because even heart attacks may sometimes present simply as nausea, abdominal discomfort or a transient jaw or throat pain. Conversely a racing heart may only be precipitated by the need to balance your budget well enough to have dinner or get a present for that special someone. This year St Valentine has decided to visit on a weekend making it even more difficult to sleep peacefully through the period. If you want a stress-free way to celebrate the weekend and yet make a lasting impression on hearts then print out these points and start practicing them together and you will be on the path to creating hearts fit for valentine and beyond.

1. Know your family
a. Unfortunately many of us are not aware of diseases that run in our families. It is important to know especially for those who died at an early age. Once you are aware of a lurking danger, then you must put in more effort to protect yourself.
b. Check on potential heart disease risks in your family such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol challenges, obesity and even alcohol abuse.
c. Discuss these with your doctor and map out an appropriate strategy.
2. Manage Stress
a. You may work or study hard but make time to “play”. It is important to have a balance in life.
b. Make time to sleep to rejuvenate and remember a walk outdoors may be a great stress-buster.
3. Know your numbers and keep them under control
a. It is important to check and know your blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol and weight. Getting to know is a great first step then go ahead to do what it takes to keep them under control. Do not wait for an ideal start day; start now with a small healthy choice.
b. Remember that most of these diseases; high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol are “silent”, they creep up on us slowly and we may even develop complications before symptoms and signs show up.
c. Fortunately for us, obesity is one of the few diseases that never requires a second opinion – tackle it aggressively.

4. Eat and drink right
a. For heart health cut back on “junk food”, minimize salt, sugar and oils (fats) and grab your fruits, vegetables and grains.
b. You know you should not smoke cigarette and if you do not drink alcohol please do not start, if you already drink stick with the barest minimum.
5. Exercise appropriately
a. The single most powerful tool for protecting your heart. It impacts positively on almost all the modifiable risk factors for heart disease.
b. The important point is to ensure it is regular and not excessive. Start slowly and increase intensity and duration as you get fitter.
c. Moderate (able to keep up a conversation) intensity exercise is best for most of us and we should aim at exercising most days of the week. At your peak you should be doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day and thankfully we can break that down into 10-minute chunks if we are hard pressed for time.
Is it not amazing that only small changes to our lifestyle have a huge effect on our HEART? Fortunately for us many of the factors that cause heart and blood vessel disease can be modified. Always remember that the following modifiable factors can have devastating implications on your heart if not tackled;
• High Cholesterol
• High Blood Pressure
• Diabetes
• Obesity
• Smoking
• Lack of Exercise or Inadequate Physical Activity
I believe you have done more good to your Valentine this weekend by sharing these points and pledging to follow the steps; so sit back, relax and enjoy a hot cup of pure cocoa drink and top it up with coconut juice. These two have a potency to ward off heart disease that is difficult to rival.


Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Moms’ Health Club

*Dr Essel is a medical doctor and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.

Thought for the week – “If you plan to live to a ripe old age, make those golden years healthy ones and not bedridden years.”

1. Health by Choice not Chance by Aileen Ludington & Hans Diehl

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