In America, every one in four deaths is caused by heart disease, for both men and women. This challenges us to take charge of our risk factors and making our heart health a priority. Simple steps and precautions can lower your chances of experiencing a heart attack.
Here are some quick tips to achieve a healthier heart and a healthier you in body, mind and spirit.
- Get regular blood pressure checks. High blood pressure might not show any obvious symptoms. That’s why getting routine blood pressure checks from your doctor can help detect any changes to your blood pressure that could be problematic. Then, your doctor can develop a plan to help you control your blood pressure. This can include eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, using less salt, and eating fewer high-sodium foods. In some cases, prescription medication might be recommended to lower blood pressure.
- Keep your diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. For adults, total fat in your diet should stay between 20 and 35 percent of total calories. Saturated fat should make up less than 10 percent. Ask your provider to monitor your cholesterol and triglycerides.
- If you smoke cigarettes, quit. And if you don’t smoke, don’t start. Be sure to stay away from secondhand smoke, too.
- Get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five or more days a week, such as brisk walking or biking. Physical activity strengthens your heart and increases circulation. Plus, it can help you reduce body fat and lose excess weight so your heart doesn’t work as hard.
- Find ways to manage stress— It will help prevent both heart disease and high blood pressure. Consider trying deep breathing or meditation to relax.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for heart disease and high blood pressure. The location of excess fat is also important. Having more fat around your waist may increase health risks more than having fat in other parts of your body. For women, a waist size of 35 inches or less is ideal and for men, less than 40 inches.
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