Tips for a Healthy Heart

February is American Heart Month – we are reminded to pay attention to our heart health. CPR/AED/First Aid instructor, Ron Fonstad has listed the top lifestyle changes we can make.

A healthy lifestyle will make your heart healthier and keep you fit for SCUBA diving. Here are some things you can do to look after your heart.

  • Give up smoking! If you are a smoker, quit. It is the best thing you can do for your heart health. Smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. A year after giving up, your risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker. I quit years ago and it was relatively easy for me. That is not the case for most people. Visit the website nobutts.org or ask your doctor for help with quitting.
  • Get active! Getting – and staying – active can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It can also be a great mood booster and stress buster. Think about how you feel before, during and after diving! In addition, professionals recommended that you do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. One way to achieve this target is by doing 30 minutes of activity 5 days a week. Fit it in where you can such as a brisk walk.
  • Manage your weight! Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease. Stick to a healthy, balanced diet low in fat and sugar, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, combined with regular physical activity.
  • Eat more fiber! Eat plenty of fiber, at least 30g a day, to help lower your risk of heart disease. Excellent sources are wholegrain breads and cereals, bran, oats, potatoes with their skins on, fruits and vegetables.
  • Cut down on saturated fat! Eating too many foods that are high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood, which increases your risk of heart disease. Choose leaner cuts of meat such as chicken, turkey and bison and lower fat dairy products like 1% fat milk over full-fat (or whole) milk. 
  • Get your “5 a Day”! Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day. They are a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. 
  • Cut down on salt! To maintain healthy blood pressure, avoid using salt at the table and try adding less to your cooking. Once you get used to the taste of food without added salt, you can cut it out completely. Watch out for high salt levels in ready-made foods. Most of the salt we eat is already in the foods we buy. Check the food labels – a food is high in salt if it has more than 1.5g salt (or 0.6g sodium) per 100g. Adults should eat less than 6g of salt a day in total – that’s about 1 teaspoon.
  • Eat Fish! Eat fish at least twice a week, including a portion of oily fish. Mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines (canned), tuna (albacore), salmon (sockeye) and anchovies are good sources of omega-3 fats, which may help protect against heart disease. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not have more than two portions of oily fish a week.
  • Drink less alcohol! Do not forget that alcohol contains calories.
  • Read the food label! When shopping, it is a good idea to look at the label on food and drink packaging to see how many calories and how much fat, salt and sugar the product contains. Understanding what is in food and how it fits in with the rest of your diet will help you make healthier choices.
  • Cardiac Emergencies! In cardiac emergencies such as a heart attack, the best plan is to alert EMS, keep the person calm and have them chew an aspirin, to get it into the blood stream quickly. If the person is unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing, alert EMS, begin CPR and administer an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) as quickly as possible. An AED has the potential for restarting a heart that is in sudden cardiac arrest. The WAVES Project equipment truck has a yellow Defibtech AED in the large black first aid kit.

For more information about purchasing AEDs and/or scheduling CPR/AED/First Aid training, contact Ron Fonstad, President and CEO of Emergency Medical Systems at 951-265-6272, [email protected] or [email protected]