Oct 27, 2021

5 Easy Ways to Keep your Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. And recent projections predict that by 2035, 45% of the U.S. adult population will live with cardiovascular disease.  However, experts say that around 80% of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and heart disease, are preventable. So what steps can you take to a healthier you? We put together this guide with five easy tips for a healthy heart and overall wellness. 

What is heart disease?

Healthcare professionals use the term heart disease to describe several heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD decreases the blood flow to the heart, which can cause a heart attack.

Other types of heart disease can lead to stroke, angina, arrhythmias, and heart failure.

Who is at risk for heart disease?

While anyone can get heart disease, there are several factors that can put you at higher risk. These risk factors include:

Age and family history of heart disease are also significant risk factors, especially if:

  • You're a woman over age 55

  • You're a man over age 45

  • Your father or brother had heart disease before age 55

  • Your mother or sister had heart disease before age 65

The good news is there are a lot of ways to prevent heart disease.

Easy Ways to Maintain the Health of Your Heart

Making changes to take care of your heart doesn't have to take a lot of time or effort. Here are five quick and easy things you can do that can significantly benefit your heart health. 

Get active

The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests starting with 15 minutes of aerobic exercise four times a week. Eventually, you want to increase your physical activity to at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, to reduce your risk of heart disease. Plus, exercise can help manage stress and improve sleep quality and weight loss, amongst many other benefits that impact your heart health. 

How can physical activity help your heart? Just like other muscles in your body, your heart grows stronger with exercise. Exercise boosts blood flow to the heart, reducing the chances of atherosclerosis and the hardening of the arteries that can lead to a heart attack. 

Listen to music

Research has shown music therapy has so many benefits, including lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. In addition, music can lower heart rate, calm the breath, and reduce stress hormones. 

While any type of music will have therapeutic benefits, songs with a lower tempo will have the most calming effect on the body.

Get more zzz's

Without adequate sleep, you increase your risk for heart disease and chances of suffering from a heart attack. A study done by the American Heart Association found that poor sleep quality is a risk factor for high blood pressure. 

To improve your quality of sleep, you should:

  • Increase your physical activity

  • Avoid excess caffeine 

  • Establish an evening routine that's easy for you to stick to

How much sleep should you get? There is no official number, as it depends on what your body needs. However, most experts have found that people usually need between six to eight hours of sleep. Too little or too much sleep can also increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Aim for a heart-healthy diet

A healthy diet is one of your body’s best defenses against developing cardiovascular disease.You don't need to jump onto the latest fad diet or prepare complicated meals to keep your heart healthy. All you need is to make a few adjustments to your diet to make heart-healthy choices. 

The American Heart Association advises incorporating the following recommendations into your diet:

  • Add in a variety of vegetables and fruits. Whether fresh, frozen, or canned, be sure they don't contain high-calorie sauces or added salt and sugars. 

  • Substitute high-calorie foods with fruits and vegetables.

  • Choose fiber-rich whole grains for most grain servings.

  • Choose poultry and fish without the skin. 

  • When choosing meat, look for the leanest cuts available.

  • Add fish containing omega-3 fatty acids into your diet at least twice a week.

  • Switch your dairy products to low-fat or 1%.

  • Avoid foods that use partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

  • Reduce your intake of saturated fats to help lower your cholesterol. You should have no more than 5 to 6 total calories of saturated fat a day. 

  • Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.

  • Look for foods with less sodium; when eating prepared foods, be sure they have little to no salt. 

  • If you do drink alcohol, drink in moderation.

It's important to remember; it's the overall pattern of your choices that counts. Improving your current diet with even just a few of the above steps has long-term benefits to your heart health.

Talk with your healthcare provider

Everyone should speak with their doctor about their heart health, especially those with one or more underlying risk factors. It's essential to have a clear understanding of your family's heart health history and provide that information to your healthcare provider.  

You may also want to speak to your doctor about starting certain medications to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. It's recommended that some people ages 40 to 75 take statins if they are at higher risk for heart disease. 

Final Thoughts

Sadly, heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death here in the United States. But making adjustments to your lifestyle such as not smoking, being physically active, maintaining a heart-healthy diet, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, and working with your doctor, can help prevent or decrease your risk of developing heart issues. 

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