Make Your Lifestyle Heart Healthy

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Make Personal Wellness Goals That Help Your Heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Every year, more than 780,000 Americans have their first heart attack and an additional 470,000 have a second or subsequent heart attack. Inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes are all risk factors for heart disease.

Know the tips and tricks to ensure you lead a heart-healthy lifestyle. Reducing stress, exercising, eating a healthy diet and avoiding tobacco can all help lower your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and heart attack.

Reduce Stress

  • Too much stress can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure if left unmanaged. As stress levels increase, so do heart disease risks.
  • Meditation can bring about a state of deep relaxation, which can decrease your heart rate and blood pressure and slow down your breathing. This gives your cardiovascular system rest, in turn reducing stress.
  • In addition to indicating happiness, laughter is healthy. Among its benefits, laughing can help some symptoms of stress by stimulating circulation and aiding muscle relaxation.
  • Get enough rest and sleep. The body cannot effectively fight off stress without sufficient rest. Both your body and mind need time to relax from stress and exercise.

Exercise

  • Get moving and work out at least 30 minutes everyday. Studies show for every hour of walking, you may increase your life expectancy by two hours. Exercise helps improve heart health and can even reverse heart disease risk factors.
  • Flexibility in middle-age and older individuals is an indicator of flexible and elastic, healthy blood vessels. Arterial stiffness is a risk factor for heart disease. Stretching and improving flexibility can help lower that risk.

Nutrition

  • Become educated and aware of the foods you give your body. It is important to read and understand food labels to make heart-healthy choices.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits. Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber and are low in calories. Plants contain substances that help prevent heart disease.
  • Eat whole grains. Whole grains help regulate blood pressure and improve heart health.
  • Limit salt intake. While salt is a necessary mineral, most people consume far too much on a regular basis. The recommended amount is 2,300mg a day or 1,500mg a day if you have a higher risk for developing heart disease.
  • Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol. One simple way is to limit the amount of solid fat that you add to food when cooking, such as butter, margarine and shortening. Also, use low-fat substitutions when possible.

Quit Smoking

  • Smoking is a leading cause of coronary artery disease. About 20 percent of all deaths from heart disease in the U.S. are directly related to smoking.
  • Quitting now can greatly reduce your risk of disease, including heart disease, heart attack and high blood pressure, as well as improve overall health.
  • Taking these simple steps towards a heart-healthier lifestyle can decrease your risk for heart disease and keep you active longer.