High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and smoking are 3 of the key risk factors for heart disease. Here are 8 things that you can do to keep your heart healthy.
Why is it important to keep your heart healthy
A healthy heart is central to overall good health as it pumps blood and oxygen to all of your organs, working 24-7. However, a heart may fail to work normally when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should, leading to reduced blood flow to the brain and other vital organs. The most common conditions that can lead to heart failure are coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and previous heart attack.
According to the World Health Organization, Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year. CVDs are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease and other conditions.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and smoking are 3 of the key risk factors for heart disease, other causes include: having diabetes, being overweight or obese, following a poor diet, neglecting to exercise and drinking alcohol in excess.
Modifying, treating, or controlling these risk factors and embracing a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. You are never too old or too young to begin taking care of your heart.
Supplements for Heart Health
3 Key steps for a heart health check:
- Make an appointment with your doctor
- Learn about your risks
- Follow up and manage your risks
Also let your doctor know right away if you develop signs or symptoms of heart disease. These symptoms may include:
8 ways to keep your heart healthy
Understanding and controlling cholesterol and blood pressure is key to your heart health. Here are 8 things that you can do:
- Exercise regularly
Studies show that people who aren’t very active are more likely to have a heart attack than those who are. Regular physical activity reduces your risk of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week as the CDC recommends.
- Follow a heart-healthy diet
Cut down on salt, eat less sugar, and limit saturated fat to control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Also, eat more nutritious foods to fuel your heart and maintain your weight.
- Avoid smoking – and smokers
Smoking is one of the main causes of developing cardiovascular disease, so if you are a smoker then QUIT. On the other hand, second-hand smoking comes in a close second. Research shows that simply inhaling smoke significantly increases your risk for coronary artery calcification. Avoid smokers as much as possible.
- Do your checkups annually
Visit your doctor regularly for annual checkups to make sure your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are intact, and mental health is stable and provide insight on ways to reduce your risk for developing dementia.
- Keep your weight down
Being overweight or obese can lead to many serious health conditions and can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attack, stroke and vascular dementia. Shedding weight not only reduces your heart’s workload, it also reduces fat luring around and forming plaque that can build up and clog your coronary arteries, which could cause a heart attack.
- Keep stress under control
Stress can increase your risk of heart disease 2.5-fold—similar to smoking and diabetes. That’s because chronic stress puts the body into constant fight-or-flight mode, triggering inflammation, high blood pressure and other unhealthy changes. Practices like meditation, deep breathing and yoga have been shown to dial down the stress response.
- Drink less
Alcohol can affect your heart by causing high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms and damage to the heart muscle. To keep your heart healthy we recommend keeping alcohol intake to a low level.
- Nurture close relationships
Having close, loving relationships with your friends and family can have cardiovascular benefits. One theory is that good relationships calm people down from the fight-or-flight response that kicks in when they’re scared or angry. Studies have shown physical intimacy, such as holding hands or hugging, can lower levels of stress hormones.
Heart Healthy Diet
Consult a doctor or a nurse if you have any concerns.