Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, responsible for every 1 in 4 deaths in the United States. The term heart disease refers to several heart conditions, including coronary artery disease and heart attack. Though the risk of developing heart disease increases with age, it can affect people of all ages, with other risk factors including weight, genetics, smoking, and more.
Because heart disease can affect anyone, it’s important to promote your heart health at all ages. Make these heart-healthy habits a part of your life to prevent heart disease and other cardiovascular issues.
Even if you’re not at higher risk for heart disease, you should follow these heart-healthy habits to support a strong heart and your overall health.
Know Your Numbers
The following are all contributing factors to heart health:
- Cholesterol: a waxy, fat-like substance found in cells. If the body has too much cholesterol, it can combine with other substances in the blood to form plaque, which can stick to the walls of the arteries and prevent blood flow.
- Blood pressure: the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can damage the tissue in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
- Body mass index (BMI): a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height, indicating the amount of body fat you have.
Knowing where you stand with these numbers can help assess your risk for cardiovascular disease. Talk to your doctor or cardiologist to determine the optimal cholesterol, blood pressure, and BMI numbers to maintain your heart health.
Regular physical activity is essential to promoting heart and overall health. The heart is a muscle, and like any other muscle, needs to be worked out to stay strong. Benefits of exercise include encouraging healthy blood flow, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and maintaining or losing weight, all important factors for a healthy heart. It can also reduce stress, improve your mood, and promote better sleep.
In need of some exercise inspiration? Check out these heart-healthy exercises.
Adopt a Balanced Diet
Food is the fuel our bodies need to survive, and the food that we eat impacts our health. A healthy, balanced diet is a key weapon in fighting cardiovascular disease. The foods you eat can affect cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, and conditions like diabetes, all of which contribute to your heart health.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Getting enough sleep is another habit that is important to both your heart and overall health. Regardless of age and other risk factors, people who don’t get enough sleep have a higher likelihood of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease. Lack of sleep can lead to issues like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. If you’re having trouble sleeping, follow these tips for better sleep.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity and being overweight put you at higher risk of developing heart disease and are linked to factors that contribute to heart disease and failure, like high blood pressure and diabetes. Extra weight also makes it harder for the heart to keep up with the demands of your body, putting a strain on it. To determine whether you are at a healthy weight, calculate your body mass index (BMI).
The best way to lose and maintain weight t is to follow two of the heart-healthy habits listed above: exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet. When exercising to lose weight, perform some weight training in addition to cardio. Also, remember that once you reach your goal weight, the job isn’t done: maintaining a healthy weight after weight loss is just as important.
Don’t Smoke and Avoid Secondhand Smoke
Among the many harmful effects of smoking is its link to heart disease. One out of five smoking-related deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease. The risk also extends to secondhand smoke, the exposure of which can lead to coronary heart disease in nonsmokers. Your risk of heart disease decreases almost immediately after you quit smoking.
Contact Pulse: The Heart, Valve, and Vascular Institute
If you have questions about your heart health, contact Pulse: The Heart, Valve, and Vascular Institute. Dr. Farhan Majeed is a general and interventional cardiologist located in Port Charlotte, FL. With a wide range of services to help diagnose and treat common cardiovascular conditions, Dr. Majeed can offer valuable insight into the heart-healthy habits you can practice to lower your risk of cardiovascular issues. To schedule an appointment, call (941) 629-2111.