The Importance of a Healthy Heart
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women; in fact, according to the CDC, every year more than 610,000 people in the United States die from heart disease. Add to that fact that 735,000 Americans suffer a heart attack annually, and you can see why it’s so vital to keep your heart healthy and strong.
If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or are a smoker, you have an increased risk for heart disease. Other key factors that can put you more at risk include having diabetes, being obese, making poor food choices, or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
5 Healthy Heart Tips
Your heart is the hardest working muscle in your body, so you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep it strong. While certain risk factors such as age, sex and ethnicity cannot be changed, there are some things you can do to improve your overall heart health.
First, if you’re worried you might be at risk for heart disease, make an appointment to see your doctor. Your doctor will be able to let you know what your good and bad cholesterol levels are, as well as what your body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and weight are- all key to improving your heart health. You can then follow up a year later with your doctor to see how well you’ve improved once you’ve implemented a heart healthy lifestyle!
Wondering how to improve heart health? Here are 5 heart healthy tips to get you started:
- Quit your bad habits. Quitting bad habits like smoking immediately starts to improve your heart health. If you smoke, it’s time to quit! After just one year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is cut in half. That’s a major incentive to kick that nasty habit once and for all.
- Implement a healthy lifestyle. Getting regular exercise and eating a heart healthy diet are key to a stronger heart. Studies have shown that women who eat lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean proteins, as well as maintain a healthy weight have a 92% decreased risk of a heart attack compared to less healthy women. Adding daily exercise in which you get your heart rate up for 30 minutes every day by walking, biking, swimming, etc. is also key to improving your heart health.
- Workout with friends. Studies show that having a social support system not only helps you stay motivated to continue with your workout regimen, but also can lower your risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that people who stay socially active have significantly lower blood pressure and other factors for heart disease than those who are isolated.
- Learn how to relax. When we get stressed out, our bodies increase adrenaline and this can overwork our hearts. Practice some de-stressing techniques and unwind for a bit every day. This might mean turning off the TV or electronic devices, spending time talking to a good friend, exercising, doing yoga, or just sitting quietly looking out the window.
- Improve your sleeping habits. Sleep allows our bodies to shut down and recover, which is good for all aspects of our health. Research shows that people who don’t get enough sleep are more than twice as likely as those getting a good night’s sleep to die of heart disease.
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