Laughter Makes the Best Medicine for Your Heart

laughing is good for your heartHow can you make yourself feel good and help your heart at the same time? Laugh!

And that’s no April Fool’s joke. Scientific research has demonstrated the positive effects of laughter on your heart. These effects include reduced blood pressure, increased blood flow, higher levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, reduced inflammation and decreased stress and anxiety.

How can laughter affect the heart—and your health—in these ways?

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Your Stressed Out Heart

All of us experience stress—such as before a test, when we are late or working under a deadline, or in traffic. Stress is a way for your body to adapt to changes in the environment. Although some stress is considered usual, research shows that prolonged stress or chronic stress can negatively impact your heart.

How does stress affect the heart? When we are under stress, our body responds by releasing a cascade of stress hormones and other chemicals that help the body prepare for the “fight or flight” response. Some of the most notable changes are an increased heart rate and breathing rate. Both of these responses increase blood flow to your tissues and make you more alert. Read more

Too Much Protein May Be Bad for Your Heart

too much protein
For women over 50, following a diet high in animal protein may increase the risk of heart failure.

This is the conclusion of a preliminary study presented at the American Heart Association annual meeting that investigated the effects of diet on heart failure in women ages 50 to 79 years of age. Researchers looked at the diet information submitted by over 100,000 participants over the course of five years. They found that women who ate a diet high in animal protein had a significantly higher rate of heart failure than those who ate a diet more balanced with fats and carbohydrates or higher in vegetable proteins. This remained true even when accounting for the presence of heart disease and heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, anemia and atrial fibrillation. Read more

How to Make Your Heart Lucky on Saint Patrick’s Day

heart healthy corned beef and cabbageThe traditional corned beef, soda bread, and beer characteristic of Saint Patrick’s Day cuisine does not make your heart feel very lucky. This traditional meal contains high levels of fat, salt, and cholesterol—not to mention alcohol. The alcohol increases the risk of Holiday Heart Syndrome, the term generally applied to describe irregular heart rhythms that develop as a result of over-indulgence of alcohol in a short period of time. Lucky for you, however, there are plenty of ways to be lean and green this Saint Patrick’s Day.

Here are some helpful tips: Read more

How Loneliness Hurts Your Heart

lonely senior womanLoneliness and social isolation may increase your risk of heart disease.

This is according to a meta-analysis published in the journal Heart that investigated the links between loneliness and heart disease. Researchers examined data from 181,000 patients and found that those who were lonely or isolated had a 29% greater risk of heart attack and chest pain and a 32% greater risk of stroke when compared to those who were not. The different studies included in the meta-analysis measured loneliness, social isolation, or a combination of both, using interviews and self-reported questionnaires. Read more

How Springing Forward Can Harm Your Heart

daylight savings time spring forwardAlthough many of us are looking forward to warmer spring weather this March, very few people will enjoy springing forward—the seasonal changing of the clocks that marks daylight savings time each spring and fall. Not only does this shift leave us a bit short of sleep, it may also be bad for your heart.

This is according to a study that found a 10-24% increase in heart attacks the Monday and Tuesday following the annual one-hour leap forward. Why might this be the case? Read more

Things You Can Do At Work To Improve Your Heart Health

heart healthy tips while at workIt can be hard to improve your heart health when most of your days are spent sitting down at the office. Here are some helpful tips to take care of your heart at work.

Take breaks.

Make sure to move around every hour—even for just a few minutes. Take a lap around the office and see how others are doing, or go do some stretches in the bathroom. Frequent breaks will help get your blood flowing and also improve your concentration. Read more

Fitness Trackers and Tracking Your Heart Rate

heart rate trackerHow do you know whether you’re reaching your target heart rate? One way is to stop periodically while exercising and check your pulse. Another, newer option is to take advantage of the many technologies available for tracking your heart rate.

Wearable technologies that track information such as heart rate and number of steps first entered the market in 2011, with a watch-like device worn around the wrist. Since then, the popularity of fitness trackers has skyrocketed, and the market has expanded to include over a dozen wearable devices put out by competing technology companies, apps downloadable to mobile devices, and more. Read more

Reaching Your Target Heart Rate

reaching your target heart rateYour heart rate is a measure of how hard your heart is working to pump blood around the body. It is usually measured by counting the number of heartbeats per minute. Your baseline heart rate refers to how fast the heart is beating at rest, before beginning any exercise. In adults and seniors, the average resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Read more

Heart-Healthy Workouts You Can Do At Home

heart healthy workouts at homeRegular physical activity is a critical component of a heart-healthy lifestyle. While many people choose to exercise at the gym or outside, you can also get your blood flowing in the comfort of your own home. Here are some easy ways to get started with a regular exercise routine at home.

Dance.

Any kind of dance will do. Turn on your favorite music and move or dance for 20-30 minutes. You’ll be exercising without even realizing it! Read more