Preventing Congestive Heart Failure

stress

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  • Following a healthy diet is one of the most effective measures for preventing congestive heart failure
  • Exercise or moderate aerobic activity can assist with keeping the rest of the body healthy and conditioned, reducing the demands on the heart muscle
  • The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a powerful stress-relieving technique you can try to help lower stress levels

If you're worried about having congestive heart failure, there are techniques that’ll help you lower your risk of being affected with the disease, or at least delay its onset. Start with these two tips first:

Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke: If you use tobacco in any form, quitting this habit will lower your risk for heart disease; however, secondhand smoke can put you at risk for congestive heart failure, too. So, if you live with a smoker, ask them to stop or at least smoke outdoors.1

Sleep easy: It's no coincidence that people who struggle with sleep apnea, which causes frequent nighttime awakenings, often have heart troubles. Sleep deprivation can cause significant heart strain, including increased blood pressure and heart rate.2 While sleep problems can be caused or exacerbated by a number of different factors, three things that are frequently overlooked are light pollution, exposure to electromagnetic fields and sleep position.

If shortness of breath bothers you, especially at night, try sleeping with your head propped up using a pillow or a wedge. If snoring or other sleep problems manifest, I suggest getting tested for sleep apnea.3

Other ways to help prevent congestive heart failure from affecting you or someone you know involve making changes to diet and lifestyle, limiting alcohol, and maintaining a healthy waist circumference and weight.

Eating Right May Help Prevent Congestive Heart Failure

Following a healthy diet is one of the most effective measures for preventing both heart disease and congestive heart failure. Fresh and organically grown vegetables that are high in nitrates — such as leafy greens, beets, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower — act as potent vasodilators that lower your blood pressure and promote endothelial function.4  Research also suggests that switching to a Paleo diet consisting of whole, REAL food (think: nothing processed) for at least eight weeks can also benefit your heart.5

Healthy fats, including unprocessed saturated animal fats, are important parts of heart-healthy meals too. While saturated fat has been vilified for years, people who want to prevent or address symptoms of congestive heart failure can benefit from these. Even though many doctors will advise you to eat only low-fat or nonfat foods, numerous studies have debunked the myth that saturated fat is harmful for your body. In particular, a meta-analysis compiling information from 21 studies revealed that saturated fat can help:6

Provide building blocks for cell membranes, hormones and hormone-like substances

Promote mineral absorption

Act as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K

Help with conversion of carotene into vitamin A

Assist with reduction of cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)

Act as an antiviral agent (caprylic acid)

Serve as optimal “clean” fuel for the brain and mitochondria

Provide satiety

Modulate genetic regulation and prevent cancer (butyric acid)

Avoid consuming foods high in sugar (including processed fructose) and refined grains, especially if you are insulin and leptin resistant. A high-sugar and high-grain diet can promote insulin and leptin resistance, precursors of heart disease. Minimize your intake of salt from processed foods too, and use natural Himalayan salt instead of conventional table salt to flavor meals.

Intermittent fasting can also help your heart. In fact, recent information from a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist, Dr. Haitham Ahmed, confirms that fasting “can help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, control diabetes and reduce weight.”7 If you do decide to fast, be sure to check with your doctor first, so you don’t upset your heart's electrolyte or potassium balances.

Lastly, avoid drinking alcohol and taking illegal drugs. If you plan to take prescription medicines, talk to your doctor first, follow instructions carefully and never increase your dose without your doctor's consent.8

How Exercise Can Combat Congestive Heart Failure

High-intensity interval training, strength training, stretching and core work can be helpful in preventing congestive heart failure. If you already have heart failure, exercise or moderate aerobic activity can assist with keeping the rest of your body healthy and conditioned, reducing the demands on the heart muscle.9 Aside from exercise, here are ways you can improve physical health and potentially reduce your risk for congestive heart failure:

  • Regularly walk barefoot on the earth: Known as grounding, this enables free electrons to be transferred from the earth into your body. The effect is considered a beneficial antioxidant and can assist with addressing inflammation present throughout the body.
  • Avoid excess sitting: Aim to sit (whether at home, school or work) only three hours or less a day.
  • Keep moving around: Alongside an exercise program, try to take 10,000 steps a day.

Before engaging in exercise or physical activity, consult your doctor first to ask about any limitations you may have and to determine what kind of exercise program may be suitable for your condition. You can also check with your local hospital to see if it offers a cardiac rehabilitation program, and ask your doctor if you can join it.

Seeking the advice of a physical therapist who has worked with or is familiar with congestive heart failure can be helpful too, since he or she can provide you with knowledge about appropriate exercises for your condition and assist you in preventing injuries and complications.10

Reducing Stress Levels Is a Must

Stress can contribute to congestive heart failure. When you're upset or anxious, the heart beats faster, breathing becomes heavier and blood pressure levels increase. These can worsen heart failure because your heart is already having trouble meeting the body's demands.11

The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a powerful stress-relieving technique you can try to help lower stress levels. EFT, which has similarities with acupuncture but without the use of needles, is based on the concept that a vital energy flows throughout the body via invisible pathways called meridians. EFT stimulates specific energy meridian points throughout the body when you tap on these areas with the fingertips while voicing positive affirmations.

Research has confirmed that EFT can be a powerful tool in combating stress and anxiety12,13,14 because of its ability to target the brain's amygdala and hippocampus. Aside from EFT, other ways for you to reduce your stress levels include:15

Breathing exercises

Guided imagery

Progressive muscle relaxation

Self-hypnosis

Rhythmic movement

Mindfulness meditation

Yoga

Tai chi

Massage therapy

Biofeedback-assistance relaxation

Autogenic training (focusing on physical sensations in your body)

Listening to sounds of nature

Buteyko breathing (proper breathing techniques)

Qi Gong, a combination of slow movements and deep mental concentration

Take note that these techniques can be applied by patients who are either at risk for heart failure or patients who already have some form of heart damage. As mentioned earlier, talk to your doctor first before taking any of these steps and check if there are certain restrictions that have to be considered to prevent unwanted side effects and/or injuries.16

MORE ABOUT CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE

Congestive Heart Failure: Introduction

What Is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms

Congestive Heart Failure Causes

Congestive Heart Failure Stages

Congestive Heart Failure Life Expectancy

Congestive Heart Failure Treatment

Congestive Heart Failure Prevention

Congestive Heart Failure Diet

Congestive Heart Failure FAQ



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