Heart Disease is on the minds of many Americans today, and for good reason. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. Thankfully, you can take control of your health and reduce your risk using these simple strategies:
Eat A Heart-Healthy Diet
Eating the right foods can play a major role in your heart health. Increasing your fruit, vegetable, and whole grain consumption can go a long way in preventing heart disease. It is also beneficial to eat beans, nuts, and fish (especially salmon and tuna).
It’s important to remember that it’s not just about what you add to your lifestyle, but what you remove as well. Foods high in saturated fats (such as red meat) should make up only a small portion of your diet, and trans fats (including deep-fried and many packaged foods) should be eliminated as much as possible.
Manage Your Stress
Stress is a part of life for most people, however when it goes unmanaged or gets out of control it can wreak havoc on your heart health. Incorporating relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises are an important part of living a healthier, happier lifestyle and reducing your risk of cardiac problems.
This should be well known by now, but it bears repeating that smoking cigarettes dramatically increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, amongst a host of other problems (and this doesn’t completely exclude smokeless tobacco, low-tar, or low-nicotine smokers either). If you are currently a smoker, don’t lose hope, because here’s the good news – Studies have shown that your risk declines as soon as just a few months after quitting, and becomes equal to people who have never smoked within 3 to 5 years of quitting.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Carrying extra weight on your body, especially in your midsection, increases your risk of heart disease and can lead to diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Calculating your BMI (body mass index) can be helpful, however does not account for muscular body types and physically fit people. For that reason, measuring your waist circumference is a good way to go. The rule of thumb is: men with a waist circumference greater than 40 inches, and women with a waist circumference greater than 35 inches, are considered overweight.
Need to lose some weight? The great news is that even reducing your weight by just 5 to 10 percent can lower your risk of these diseases.
Exercising will not only help you maintain a healthy weight, but has its own heart-healthy benefits as well. Get your blood pumping and body moving by performing 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) most days of the week, and you stand to reduce your risk of heart disease. Of course, consult with your doctor first to establish the routine that will work best for you.
Lower Your Cholesterol
Living with high cholesterol automatically increases your risk of developing heart disease. This goes hand-in-hand with eating well, as a diet low in refined sugars, cholesterol, and saturated fat can help lower your cholesterol. To make sure you’re on track, have your doctor monitor your levels regularly.
Lack of sleep will not only leave you feeling fatigued all day, but can leave you at greater risk of developing many ailments including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart attack. Aim for somewhere between seven to nine hours of sleep each night to make sure you’re getting enough rest, and try to set a sleep/wake schedule that your body can grow accustomed to.
By following these 7 strategies, you can rest assured that you are taking your health in your hands and doing what you can to protect yourself from heart disease.