12 Tips to Keep your Heart Healthy
Making small changes in your habits can make a real difference to your ticker. The best way look after your heart is with a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a positive outlook on life may help you stay healthier for longer.
1- Be smoke-free
Smoking and secondhand smoke are bad for your heart. Being smoke free is one of the best things you can do to protect your heart, it can make a huge difference to not just your heart, but your overall health, too.
2- Manage your blood cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty substance carried in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to be healthy, but an imbalance of cholesterol in your blood can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
3- Manage your blood pressure
Blood pressure isn’t usually something you can feel. If it’s too high, it needs to be treated. Get your blood pressure checked every 3-5 years if you’re 18-39. If you’re 40 or older, or if you have high blood pressure, check it every year.
4- Manage diabetes
It’s important to manage your diabetes to help prevent a heart attack or stroke. Millions of people don’t know that they have this condition. That’s risky because over time, high blood sugar damages arteries and makes heart disease more likely.
Your doctor should test your blood sugar if you are 45 or older, if you are pregnant, or if you're overweight and have other risk factors for diabetes.
5- Be physically active
Regular, moderate physical activity is great for your heart health. It’s never too late to start and get the benefits. It’s also important to sit less during your day and break up your sitting time. To keep it simple, you can aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of moderate exercise.
6- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of heart disease and other health problems.
7- Clean up and enjoy a variety of nutritious foods
Eating a varied diet of healthy foods can help with your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Your heart works best when it runs on clean fuel. That means lots of whole, plant-based foods (like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds) and fewer refined or processed foods (like white bread, pasta, crackers, and cookies).
One of the fastest ways to clean up your diet is to cut out sugary beverages like soda and fruit juice, which lacks the fiber that’s in actual fruit.
8- Eat less salt
Reducing your salt intake is good for your blood pressure.
9- Replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats
Replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats can reduce your risk of heart disease. To help your heart’s arteries, cut down on saturated fats, which are mainly found in meat and full-fat dairy products.
Also, totally quit trans fats, which are found in some processed foods. They drive up your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol level. Check ingredient lists for anything that says “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” -- those are trans fats.
10- Sleep well
The next time you're tempted to stay up later than you should, remember how comfy that pillow will feel and how good a full night's sleep is for your heart.
Young and middle-age adults who slept 7 hours a night had less calcium in their arteries (an early sign of heart disease) than those who slept 5 hours or less or those who slept 9 hours or more.
11- Limit alcohol
Regular or high alcohol use can hurt your heart and lead to diseases of the heart muscle. Drinking alcohol regularly also can raise your blood pressure.
12- Look after your mental health
- There is a greater risk of heart disease for people who have depression, are socially isolated or do not have good social support. Having a good social life with family and friends can help.
Depression is more than feeling sad or low.
- Managing stress in a healthy way, whether it's meditation, yoga, or exercise, is really important.
- Think progress, not perfection, and reward yourself for every positive step you take. Ask your friends and family to support you and join in, too. Your heart’s future will be better for it!
- Research suggests laughing can lower stress hormones, decrease inflammation in your arteries, and raise your levels of high-density lipoprotein (HLD), also known as “good cholesterol.”
"People who follow these steps not only live longer, but they also spend a lot more time healthy, without cardiovascular disease."