5 surprising ways to help your heart

Posted on 2 September 2020

You already know that exercise, eating healthily and not smoking can help keep your heart performing well. But what else can you do to keep your heart healthy?


Seek help for snoring

Heavy snoring can be a sign of sleep apnoea (stopping breathing while sleeping), which can cause your blood oxygen levels to drop. This can raise your blood pressure and put strain on your heart. ‘Obstructive sleep apnoea might also increase your risk of recurrent heart attack, stroke and abnormal heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation,’ says Dr Bianca Vermeulen, a GP at Mediclinic Midstream. Ask your doctor about Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy (CPAP).


Reduce stress levels

Emotional stress isn’t good for your heart. Medical researchers aren’t 100% sure of the link between stress and heart disease. ‘Although stress itself might be a factor, it could be that high levels of stress worsen other risk factors, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure,’ Dr Vermeulen explains. Chronic stress might also cause you to drink more, eat more, smoke more and exercise less.


Reach for the aspirin

Aspirin prevents blood clots from forming in the arteries and can also help lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke. If you feel you may be having a heart attack, call for help then sit down and chew an aspirin. Aspirin can help dissolve the clot before there’s permanent damage to your heart. In normal circumstances, always consult your doctor before taking medication.


Get enough sleep

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention if you get less than seven hours sleep every night, you  are more likely to experience health problems that raise the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. These health problems include hypertension. During normal sleep, your blood pressure goes down but if you aren’t getting enough shut-eye, your blood pressure stays higher for a longer amount of time. High blood pressure is one of the leading risks for heart disease and stroke.


Brush your teeth

Studies show oral bacteria that causes gum disease can move into the bloodstream. When these bacteria reach your heart, they can attach themselves to any damaged area and cause inflammation. This can result in illnesses such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. According to the American Heart Association, other cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke have also been linked to inflammation caused by bacteria from the mouth. ‘Maintaining optimal oral hygiene is an important part of your overall health,’ says Dr Vermeulen. ‘You should brush twice a day and use floss regularly.’


To ensure you keep your heart in optimum health, remember to regularly get your essential check ups done. If you haven’t checked your cholesterol and blood pressure lately be sure to  schedule these health checks with your GP soon.

Read more about heart and stroke health here…

The heart attack gender gap (infographic)
What happens in your body during a stroke (infographic)
Your stroke treatment journey (infographic)
Early warning signs of stroke
The different kinds of stroke: how they happen and how they harm your health
FAQs: Stroke – common questions, answered
Signs and symptoms of a stroke

Published in Cardiology

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.