Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Preventing heart disease requires making smart choices that will lead to a sustainable lifestyle.
Many factors contribute to heart diseases such as lack of exercise, a poor diet, and other unhealthy habits.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to reduce your chances of getting heart disease.
Here are some steps you can take to lead a healthier lifestyle and keep your heart happy and healthy.
1. Exercise daily
Getting smart about your heart health earlier in life puts you ahead of the curve. Colleen Pietras, cardiac surgeon & congestive heart failure specialist at Yale Medicine, says “it is a good habit to get your heart rate up for 30 minutes a day by walking, climbing stairs instead of using an elevator, or parking farther away from your building so you can walk a long distance from your car”.
Not only does exercising daily strengthen your heart and improve blood circulation, but it also will help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Try to incorporate aerobic, strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination into your exercise routine. The bottom line is to stay active – even a walk around the block will help your heart stay healthy.
2. Healthy Eating Habits
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The foods you consume play a big role in your overall health. Consider choosing foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. As part of a healthy diet, eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, oily fish, almonds, and beans.
Try limiting your intake of red meat and instead select leaner protein such as chicken or turkey.
Certain food can influence your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, so below are a couple of foods you should be including in your diet to maximize your heart health:
- Leafy Greens
- Brown rice
In order to stay on track, try meal prepping healthy meals so you can still eat home-cooked without having to dedicate time each day for preparation.
3. Don’t Smoke & Avoid Secondhand Smoke
Smoking cigarettes raises your blood pressure and can damage the function of your heart and blood vessels.
Over time, the chemicals in tobacco smoke will harm your blood vessels as plaque builds up in the arteries causing congestive heart failure. If you do smoke, consult with a doctor on the best way for you to quit.
Even exposure to secondhand smoke poses a serious health risk. In fact, secondhand smoke causes nearly 34,000 premature deaths from heart disease each year in the United States.
4. Get Enough Sleep
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If you don’t sleep enough each night, you raise your risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and even diabetes. All of these health concerns can raise your risk for congestive heart failure. It is recommended to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
5. Manage Stress
When your body is under stress it can raise your blood pressure, so it’s important to try and manage your stress in a healthy way.
Consider trying meditation, yoga, or counseling. Or, consider picking up a new hobby and try to incorporate 20-30 minutes a day doing something you love.
Hobbies include reading, knitting, doing a puzzle, or making art. It’s important to set time aside for yourself to unwind so that your mental and physical health doesn’t suffer.
6. Limit Alcohol Consumption
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Too much alcohol adds excessive calories to your diet, so it’s best to stick to two drinks a day (one can of beer equals one drink). In addition, women should have no more than one drink a day.
Excessive alcohol use is defined as having more than three drinks a day. The occasional glass of wine won’t hurt you, but like with everything in life, consume in moderation.
Know the Symptoms
If you notice any symptoms of congestive heart failure, call your doctor promptly. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Fluid buildup in the legs
- Trouble sleeping
- Poor appetite
Although congestive heart failure is a serious health condition, you have the ability to control the progression of the disease by making smarter lifestyle choices.
If you have a medical condition such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications and recommend lifestyle changes.
Make sure to take your medications as your doctor prescribes and follow a healthy lifestyle plan.
About The Author:
Brooke Kelly is a freelance writer and business journalist from New York City. When she’s not working, you can find her traveling, jamming to music, and hiking with her corgi.