6 Simple Tips for a Healthy Heart
American Heart Month is observed every February, and it’s a time when we raise awareness about the importance of heart health and living a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, even though 90% of heart disease is preventable through exercise and healthier choices. Statistics like this are why raising awareness and offering these tips for a healthy heart are critical steps to prevention.
What are the Major Contributors to Heart Disease?
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes are the most significant overall risk factors for heart disease. While all of these are correctable to large degrees and in your control, family history is not. If heart disease and other contributing factors run in your family, your heart disease odds increase. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t make lifestyle adjustments to help decrease your risk.
Tips for a Healthy Heart That You Can Start Today
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
Changing your eating habits will not only help your heart, but your entire body will benefit as well. Simple things like portion control, avoiding sodium as often as possible, increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, and choosing lean meats and seafood for your protein options.
2. Don’t Smoke
Smoking or vaping tobacco is terrible for your heart. The chemicals you inhale into your body damage your heart and blood vessels which can lead to atherosclerosis. Smoking also increases your risk of heart disease if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or are obese. Quitting is difficult, but you can improve your chances with support and determination.
3. Alcohol in Moderation
Aside from the risks of alcoholism from excessive alcohol consumption, there are other health risks. Heavy drinking can have adverse effects on your overall health. When it comes to the heart, it can lead to high blood pressure, risk of heart failure or stroke, and it could also contribute to cardiomyopathy. Moderation is best; if you feel you need help with controlling your consumption, contact a professional.
4. Get Exercise
Getting exercise might seem the most obvious of all the tips for a healthy heart, but it’s worth mentioning, for it’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your heart health. Regular exercise helps to strengthen your heart muscle, lose weight, lower your blood pressure, and reduce your bad cholesterol (while raising your good cholesterol).
5. Stress Management
Having constant stress in your life can lead to high blood pressure and inflammation in your body. Stress can also lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, drinking, poor sleeping habits, overeating, and lack of exercise motivation. Do your best to maintain a positive attitude, get active and reach out more to friends and family or consider seeing a therapist to help you manage your stressors.
6. Annual Exams
Routine exams with your primary care physician are essential to maintaining a healthy heart. You will undergo tests and screenings to see if you are at risk for developing heart disease. If there are any signs, your doctor will advise you of actions to take, possibly prescribe you medications, or recommend that you see a cardiologist.
Invest in Yourself
Following these six tips for a healthy heart will also lead to a healthier you. It is never too late to reduce your risk of heart disease, and making these changes is the first step.