An Occupational Therapist’s heart health advice
Occupational Therapist Brittany Ferri gives her advice on how to keep your heart health in good shape even while at home. Brittany is an occupational therapist who treats patients with heart conditions and is the Founder at Simplicity of Health.
“Heart health is connected to our general wellness, since the heart plays an important part in the health of many other body systems. A strong, efficient heart prevents artery congestion, fluid build-up, and high blood pressure, all of which can put someone at an increased risk for an embolism, stroke, or heart attack. A healthy heart is also a good indicator for physical stamina, both related to exercise and general activity tolerance.
Maintaining heart health does not have to be complicated. It all comes down to forming good habits. People can do lots of things at home to be mindful of their heart health. First is diet – eat foods with healthy fats like omega 3s such as avocados, salmon, dark chocolate, and tuna. Don’t overeat, either, as this puts undue stress on the heart. Second is stopping unhealthy choices like smoking and drinking. This only makes our heart do more work to keep our body healthy. Third is minimizing stress. Stress is not good for any part of the body, but this is especially the case for the heart. It weakens our arteries and can cause a rapid and/or irregular heartbeat. The goal is to maintain a steady, even heart rate that only spikes excessively when we exercise. Last, exercise is important. Whether it be walking each night after dinner or swimming and lifting weights, any workout that gives our body some exertion and oxygen flow is good for us.
People can use pedometers and basic health trackers to track steps and general activity levels in addition to heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. These trackers can also serve the added benefit of monitoring your habits and lifestyle choices such as caffeine intake (something we want to avoid as much as possible), water intake, sleep quality/quantity, stress levels, and diet selections.
Poor heart health can lead to a number of chronic conditions that place us at risk for heart attack, stroke, embolism, lung conditions, and more. Not to mention heart-related factors and conditions (high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, coronary artery disease) are some of the underlying health concerns that place someone at a higher risk for complications due to COVID. This is also in addition to heart conditions making people more sensitive to stress and other environmental changes they may experience over the course of their lives.”