Although Valentine’s Day has passed, it is still the perfect time to remember to keep your heart safe from heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, claiming approximately 600,000 lives each year. Additionally, more than 720,000 Americans experience heart attacks annually, and that number is growing. It is never too early to start caring about your heart’s health and taking the right steps to protect it.
Indulge In a Healthy Diet
Maintaining a heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways to take care of your heart. Avoid foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, sodium and added sugars. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats, and fiber-rich foods are the best to keep your heart pumping strong.
Get Your Heart Pumping
Physical activity helps your body maintain a consistent weight, and also prevents high blood pressure and other heart-related diseases. All it takes is 30-60 minutes a day for at least four days a week to help your heart stay strong. Any physical activity from walking the dog and cleaning the house, to gardening and even shopping, can count towards exercise and improve your cardiovascular health.
Tobacco fills your body with harmful chemicals and gases that can damage blood vessels, increase blood pressure, and lead to life-threatening illnesses. If you do not currently smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, look for an effective way to quit smoking that works for you. The sooner you quit, the sooner you will lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Drink Less Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can cause you to have high blood pressure, and puts toxins into your body. Limit the amount of drinks you have to no more than one a night, and try to consume less than three drinks each week.
Try to Relax
Stress can have a dangerous effect on our bodies and over time that damage builds up. Deep breathing exercises, stress management techniques, and simply doing things that make you smile help lower your stress and in turn, lead you to a better quality of life.
Get Your Beauty Rest
Not getting enough sleep leaves you at a higher risk for obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression. Setting a sleep schedule that gets you in bed at a reasonable hour can help put your snooze button to rest and let you wake up happier and healthier each day.
Make a Date with Your Doctor
No matter how healthy you are, it is important to maintain regular doctor visits. A good relationship with your physician means you will have a better grasp on your overall health and be able to identify what are the risks to you, individually, and how to avoid them.