Heart Health - Elizabeth Joseph-Williams
The heart pumps about 5.7 litres of blood throughout the body and beats about 60 to 80 times per minute in an adult. The heart is responsible for taking deoxygenated blood through the veins to the lungs where oxygenation occurs. Oxygenated blood from the lungs is pumped into the various arteries, which in turn transport the oxygenated blood throughout the body to provide nutrients to body tissues. Obstruction of blood flow due to blockage of any of the arteries can lead to a heart attack or damage the muscles of the heart. Therefore, it can be concluded that the heart plays a vital role in the health of any individual.
You may be familiar with the phrase “know your numbers”, which refers to key markers of heart health like blood pressure, waistcircumference, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI). It’s important that you know your numbers and understand what they mean. By keeping those numbers within a healthy range, you can greatly improve your heart health and reduce your risk for heart disease.
Blood Pressure and the Heart
Blood pressure refers to how hard the blood pushes against the arterial walls as it moves through the body. Throughout the day, it is normal for blood pressure to go up and down, but if it remains up, you have high blood pressure.
Normal blood pressure is 120/80. The first number is the systolic blood pressure while the second number is the diastolic blood pressure.
Systolic blood pressure is 120 to 139 and/or
Diastolic blood pressure is 80 to 89
This means that your blood pressure is higher than normal, but not high enough to be high blood pressure.
It is a warning that your blood pressure is going up.
If you are in this category, you should have your blood pressure checked as often as your doctor advises, or at least once a year.
High blood pressure:
High blood pressure is confirmed when the blood pressure is at least 140/90 mmHg on three or more separate occasions. If this is the case, it is imperative to have your blood pressure checked often.
You can use a home blood pressure monitor to keep track of your blood pressure. Remember that blood pressure readings vary throughout the day. They usually are highest in the morning after you wake up and move around. They decrease throughout the day and are lowest in the evening.
The waist circumference acts as an indirect indicator of visceral fat (intra-abdominal fat tissue). Waist circumference can be measured by placing a tape measure around your waist at the top of your hipbone, which is usually at the level of your belly button.
A man with a waist measurement greater than 40in (102cm) and a woman with a waist measurement greater than 35in (88cm) is at increased risk for health problems.
A large waist circumference is linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, because of excess abdominal fat.
Cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI) will be discussed in the next article.