Your heart is one hardworking organ-continuously circulating blood throughout the body to supply oxygen and nutrients to various tissues and organ systems. Here’s how to care for your heart this season of love, based on recent research.

Look at what heart health studies that are making headlines reveal:

A Better Way to Read Blood Pressure, expert says.

A recent Harvard study suggests checking blood pressure on both arms for a more accurate reading. Research has linked even a small difference in systolic blood pressure between arms (10 pts. or more_ with a 38% higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases. Generally, in studies comparing systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings, systolic blood pressure has been a better predictor of risk.

Avoid Stress-related Emotions

Did you know that emotions tied to stress—fear, anxiety, anger—can increase heart attack and stroke risk? The brain activity associated with controlling negative emotions is linked to physical signs of risk for heart disease, say the University of Pittsburgh researchers.

When you are under stress, your body has an increased level of pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. Inflammation is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis and premature death by heart disease.

Be Cautious about Taking Aspirin

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises caution about taking an aspirin a day, which may not be appropriate for everyone. Health officials cautioned people to consult first with a doctor or health practitioner before taking daily aspirin, given potentially serious adverse effects.

“There’s been sort of a conception that since aspirin is so good that maybe it would be a good idea if everyone took it, but the data don’t really support that,” said Dr. Richard Chazal, vice president of the American College of Cardiology.

However, if you are already taking aspirin under your doctor’s orders, you should not abruptly stop the treatment. Instead, check with your doctor first.

Tips on How to Take Care of Your Heart

  • Eat healthily. A diet that’s good for your heart includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Avoid salty meats, processed foods, and sweetened snacks and drinks.
  • Manage your weight. Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease. Go for a healthy, balanced diet that’s low in fat and sugar. Fiber-rich foods such as wholemeal bread, bran, oats, and wholegrain cereals help lower your risk too.
  • Take fish oil. Fish oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that are known for their cardiovascular health benefits. Brenda Watson, a health educator, suggests looking for four things in a fish oil supplement: 1000 mg Omega-3; Enteric coating for better absorption; IFOS (International Fish Oil Standard) seal for purity, potency, and freshness; and added vitamin D.
  • Get active. Staying active reduces the risk of heart disease. It also helps boost your mood and bust stress. NHS recommends 150-minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.

There are many things you can do to help prevent and manage heart disease. Healthy choices such as staying active, improving your diet, and getting regular medical checkups can help you take care of your heart.

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