Let’s talk about hearts! February is not just about love and Valentines – it’s also dedicated to heart health and awareness about heart disease. You probably know that the heart is a very, very, important part of your body. But do you know why?
Your heart is a muscle that functions as the power supply for your entire body. It’s job is to pump blood throughout the circulatory system, which provides the oxygen and nutrients that you need while also removing metabolic waste that you don’t need. The heart works incredibly hard, pumping day and night for an average of 2.5 billion beats in a lifetime. When the heart stops, the body stops. While sometimes genetic, cardiovascular disease is often prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices. Let’s look at ten adjustments you can make to ensure you’re caring for your heart.
- Eat Right. Leave processed food on the shelf and opt for whole, nutrient-dense foods. Focus on fruits, veggies, and healthy fat sources such as fish and nuts. Limit your intake of trans fats, sugar, and salt.
- Reduce Stress. Breathe deeply and search for ways you can reduce the stressors in your daily life. Focus on practices that help to reduce your stress, such as exercise, reading, or meditation. Prolonged stress increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Quit Smoking. Smoking makes it more difficult for your heart to do its job. Smokers are more likely to have a buildup of fat in the arteries and lower HDL (the “good” cholesterol that helps to clear the arteries of “bad” fats).
- Maintain a Healthy Weight. Being overweight puts a strain on the heart, but don’t be discouraged. Losing just 5 or 10 pounds can make a significant improvement. If you’re overweight and looking for support, talk to your doctor about healthy ways to drop the pounds.
- Prioritize Sleep. Your heart is hard at work even while you’re sleeping, but it still benefits when you get a healthy amount of sleep. Not getting enough sleep may be linked to increased levels of cortisol, a hormone that increases the risk of stroke or heart attack.
- Exercise Regularly. Build a healthy heart and lungs with regular cardio exercise. Just 30 minutes per day, 3 times per week, will work wonders. If you’re not accustomed to regular exercise, ease into a workout routine with brisk walks or an online yoga stretch video.
- Limit Alcohol and Caffeine. Experts are still unsure about the impact of caffeine and alcohol on your heart. Some say a few drinks will support HDL (the “good” cholesterol), but if you experience any dizziness or palpitations, it’s best to ease up on the caffeine.
- Take Care of Your Teeth. There is a proven link between dental health and cardiovascular health! Support the health of your teeth and your heart by brushing and flossing twice daily, as well as making biannual visits to your dentist.
- Visit Your Doctor. Be proactive and preventative with your heart. Your doctor can keep tabs on your risk factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. We’re here to support your health journey!
- Know Your Family History. Some cardiovascular diseases are genetic, so it’s wise to make your doctor aware if a parent or sibling has experienced heart disease at an early age. Using the previous 9 points will help decrease your risk, whatever your family history indicates!
A healthy lifestyle is the key to heart disease prevention, and we can help! Give us a call today to meet with your doctor about improving your heart health.