Each year heart disease and stroke claim 18.6 million lives and are the world’s leading causes of death.
Anyone may be at risk for heart disease, but these factors put you at higher risk:
- You have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes
- You are a smoker
- You are overweight or have obesity
- You don’t get enough physical activity
- You don’t eat a healthy diet
- 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
In honor of World Heart Day, and your ticker, of course – we’ve compiled a list of ways you can keep your heart healthier.
Easy Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthier
Let’s get straight to the heart of the matter.
1. Reduce Your Fat Intake
Yes, this one seems obvious, but reducing your saturated fats can cut your risk of heart disease. The USDA advises that your saturated fat intake should make up no more than 7% of your daily calories. If you aren’t one of those people who usually reads nutrition labels, you should consider starting today.
2. Get Your Blood Pumping
No matter what you weigh, it’s not good to be stationary for long periods. According to research from the American Heart Association, sitting for too long could shorten your lifespan. The couch potato and desk jockey lifestyles have an unfavorable effect on blood fats and blood sugar. So, if you’re sitting at a desk for most of the day, make sure you take regular breaks to move around. Take a stroll during your lunch break, and make sure you get plenty of exercise in your free time.
3. Know Your Numbers
Keeping your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides in check is essential to good heart health. Speak to your doctor about the optimal levels for your gender and age group, and be prepared to take the necessary steps to reach and maintain those levels. Remember to schedule regular checkups with your doctor and keep good records of your vitals and lab numbers to bring to each appointment.
4. Eat Your Way to a Happy Heart
Recently, something called the DASH diet has been studied for heart health. Research from the National Heart, Lunch, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) shows that this diet lowers high blood pressure, improves cholesterol, and definitely stays away from those pesky saturated fats.
According to the NHLBI, the basics of the diet include:
- Eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grains
- Consuming fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
- Limit foods that are high in saturated fats
- Avoid sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages
5. Keep Your Belly In Check
Studies in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology have linked excess belly fat to unhealthy blood lipid levels and higher blood pressure. So if you’re carrying extra fat around your middle, it’s time to get moving and slim down. Monitoring your calorie intake and exercising more can make a world of difference.
6. Put The Cigarette Out – For Good
While there are many steps you can take to help protect your health and blood vessels, avoiding tobacco is definitely one of the best. Smoking is one of the top controllable risk factors for heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all encourage smokers and users of other tobacco products to quit. This will make a significant difference to both your heart, as well as your overall health too.
7. Laughter Is The Best Medicine
LOL’s don’t count in the online worlds of email or Facebook. We mean literally laughing out loud. Whether you opt for a comedy movie or cracking jokes with your friends, as it turns out, laughter may be good for your heart. According to research from the Heart Foundation, laughing can lower stress hormones, decrease inflammation in your arteries, and increase your “good cholesterol” levels – otherwise known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Either way, a little more giggling will be good for you.
8. Raise A Glass
Moderate alcohol consumption can also help raise your HDL levels and can also help prevent the formation of blood clots and artery damage. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, red wine specifically may be beneficial to your heart. With that being said, it doesn’t mean you should guzzle the vino at every meal – the key here is drinking it in moderation.
9. Engage in a Hobby
Whether you knit a scarf, complete a jigsaw, or try your culinary skills out on a new recipe, engaging in activities that relieve stress will do your heart a world of good. Stress plays a significant role in your heart health, so make sure you have a passion project to help you take the edge off at the end of a stressful day.
Another great way to do that is through a bit of fun footwork.
10. Channel Your Inner Dancing Queen (or King)
Whether you are more into a rumba beat or two-step tones, dancing makes for an incredible heart-healthy workout. Simultaneously getting your heart rate up and bringing those stress levels way down. Like other forms of aerobic exercise, dancing raises your heart rate and gets your lungs pumping with oxygen. And according to the Mayo Clinic, it burns up to 200 calories or more per hour. So why not turn up the volume and let the music move you to a healthier heart.
There you have it, 10 easy and (not so bad) tips to implement into your life to ensure your heart is functioning at its best and keeps the rest of your body happy too. After all, it is the focal point of the human body.
If you would like to speak to a medical professional, whether in person or virtual consultation, simply download the Air Doctor app, and you could have an appointment within as little as two hours.