5 Tips to Get Heart Healthy with COPD
With Valentine’s Day having just passed, you’ve likely seen a few heart depictions, perhaps in candy form marked with expressions of affection. While often used symbolically, the heart serves a real and crucial purpose in the human body, circulating our blood and keeping us alive. Like most people, you probably associate the heart with the month of February based solely on the romantic holiday. However, February has also been established American Heart Month by the American Heart Association in recognition of this vital organ.
As heart disease is the top cause of death in the United States, recognizing the importance of keeping your heart healthy is essential. If you’re suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), being conscious of your heart health is particularly important. A multitude of population studies have found a strong correlation between COPD and the risk of heart disease. The results of one recent study, published in the Journal of Respiratory Medicine, found the risk of ischemic heart disease to be 21 percent among study participants with restricted lung function, compared to 4 percent among those with healthy lungs.
Getting Heart Healthy with COPD
Fortunately, by being proactive and getting heart healthy with COPD, increased stress placed on your heart can be managed. While regular cardiovascular exercise may be unrealistic if you have restricted lung function, modifying your diet can have a significant impact on the health of your heart. Here are some our favorite tips for a heart healthy diet:
1. Avoid foods that contain trans fats.
Trans fat is worse than other types of fats. Not only is it difficult to digest, but trans fat raises your body’s bad cholesterol level while also lowering its good cholesterol level, which directly increases your risk for heart disease. So, how do you avoid this particularly harmful form of fat? Limit your consumption of fried foods, as they commonly contain trans fats. Additionally, when purchasing packaged food items, be sure to read through the ingredients and avoid anything with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
2. Limit your consumption of cholesterol and saturated fats.
Many foods high in saturated fats are also high in cholesterol content, which only proliferates the negative impact they have on your heart. So, what types of foods contain these ingredients? Animal products, particularly fatty red meat and whole dairy products. Although it may be difficult, you should limit your consumption of red meat to once a week or less. Substituting whole dairy products for those with reduced fat is also beneficial.
3. Increase your consumption of vegetables.
Most vegetables contain an assortment of vitamins and minerals, many of which are linked to heart health. Try substituting some of the meat on your plate for heart-healthy veggies, such as tomatoes, asparagus, peppers, onions, broccoli, carrots, garlic, squash and leafy greens.
4. Cut back on the salt.
It is customary in American culture to season foods heavily, particularly with salt, to add flavor. While it may aid in taste, salt can be dangerous for your heart when consumed in excess, causing your cells to retain water. Salt also increases the blood volume and pressure in your arteries. Pay attention to the sodium content of packaged goods as it’s often high. Whenever possible, it is better to choose reduced sodium alternatives.
5. Increase your consumption of fish.
Many studies have found that fish containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids substantially lower the risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, certain types of fish are better than others, such as salmon, mackerel or bluefish, and should be consumed at least twice a week.