Your heart is a vital organ and keeping it healthy is central to overall good health. You’re never too old or too young to start taking care of your heart. For American Heart Month, our team at Your Health Lab wants to highlight five easy ways to keep your heart healthy.
What you eat, how much you move, the amount of stress in your life, whether you smoke or not, and controlling your blood pressure are five things that can have a big impact on your heart health. If you suspect you may be experiencing a heart condition, remember to monitor your symptoms and reach out to your doctor. Monitoring symptoms, assessing risk factors, and having regular check-ups with your doctor are three ways you can take care of your heart health.
For a happy heart, eat a balanced diet
Choosing to eat healthy meals and snacks can help you prevent heart disease and its complications. Your diet can have a big impact on your heart health. To prevent heart disease, eat a diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Some foods known to prevent heart disease are salmon, walnuts, sardines, berries, and spinach. Try and stay away from too much salt, processed meats, and processed snacks. Some common kitchen and pantry processed foods are potato chips, candies, bacon, sausage, fast food, and frozen desserts.
If you’re stumped on dinner, try picking a recipe from one of these Heart-Check Certified Recipes.
Did you know that some of the best, free medicine you can possibly give your heart is exercise? Your heart grows stronger with exercise, and the endorphins you get from exercise are sure to keep your heart happy. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
Incorporating some physical activity into your daily routine — even if it’s just 30 minutes — is better than nothing. If you struggle with finding time to exercise, try starting slow with a daily walk in the morning. The American Heart Association says just 30 minutes/day, five times/week, of aerobic exercise (including walking) can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Stress can affect people in different ways. How you deal with stressors in your life may be different to how your friends and family deal with theirs. How much stress you experience, and how you react to it, can have an affect on your overall health.
According to some studies, chronic stress has been associated with cardiovascular issues. Chronic stress may lead to high blood pressure, which is a leading cause of heart attack and stroke.
To reduce stress, try and pinpoint the source of your stressor. If you can’t reduce the stressor yourself, reach out to a professional, such as a psychological therapist, who may be able to provide you with exercises to tackle the source of your stress.
In addition to figuring out the source of your stressor, getting enough sleep and getting active during the day are two ways in which you can reduce overall stress in your life.
Smoking damages the blood vessels leading to your heart, brain, and other parts of your body. Smokers are four times more likely to die of heart attack or stroke. Even if you’re not a smoker, studies have shown that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25 to 30 percent higher for people who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work. The mix of the toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke can interfere with the delivery of oxygen-rich blood to your heart and the rest of your body.
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health. If you’re struggling to quit, check out this helpful article for resources and programs to help you quit.
Control your blood pressure
Having high blood pressure can decrease the flow of blood and energy to your heart. This happens because high blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which ultimately decreases the flow of blood. Your arteries are supposed to be strong and flexible, but high blood pressure can damage the cells of your arteries’ inner lining. When this happens, the artery walls become less elastic, resulting in limiting blood flow throughout the body.
Having limited blood flow to your heart can result in a variety of heart issues, such as chest pain (angina), irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), or a heart attack.
You can control your blood pressure in a variety of ways. Eating a well balanced diet, staying active, quitting smoking, and decreasing your stress are all ways in which you can keep your heart happy and control your blood pressure.
The bottom line
Keeping your heart healthy is important. At Your Health Lab, we have 3,500 diagnostic tests to help you stay on top of your heart health. Reach out to your doctor to see which test is right for you.