American Heart Month aims to raise awareness of the fact that heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Heart disease includes heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and remains the leading cause of death for women. Maintaining a healthy heart through these tips will improve your overall well-being and can reduce your risk of developing heart-related health issues.
The old saying, “You are what you eat” rings true when it comes to your heart health. A balanced, wholesome diet lowers your cholesterol and keeps your blood pressure at a healthy level. Try and stick to fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat proteins and manage your portions. Foods rich in potassium, Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants are all proven to help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The benefits of exercise for your heart cannot be overstated. Along with helping you maintain a healthy weight, exercise can also improve your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Regular exercise also allows arteries to dilate more readily. In addition, some studies have shown exercise can reduce the damage of a heart attack by as much as 50 percent.
You can care for your heart by eliminating bad habits and incorporating good ones. Be consistent with your sleep schedule and make sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Getting enough sleep can reduce your risk for high blood pressure, weight gain and diabetes. If you’re a smoker, talk with your doctor right away about how you can quit. Nearly 20 percent of cardiovascular disease deaths in the U.S. are from cigarette smoking. While drinking in moderation, (which is defined as one or two drinks per day), isn’t harmful to your heart, drinking in excess can contribute to stroke, heart failure, and high blood pressure.
Visit the Doctor Regularly
See your doctor for check-ups and consistently track your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol so you can take charge of your heart health. If you’re experiencing symptoms related to heart disease, such as shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of your legs and feet, and rapid or irregular heartbeat call your doctor right away. Know your family history and be sure to fill your doctor in about your own medical history.
Stress negatively impacts your overall health and chronic stress can increase your risk of heart disease in several ways. It can cause plaque buildup in arteries, contribute to poor blood flow to the heart and long-term stress increases the risk of stroke. Manage your stress by practicing deep breathing exercises, finding time for hobbies, getting enough rest, and even playing with pets.
A healthy heart is crucial to your general health and it’s never too late to start taking care of yours. At Shannondale, we encourage our residents to lead healthy, active lives through our fitness classes and nurses are available 24/7 for any medical concerns. For additional resources on how to maintain a healthy heart, visit the American Heart Association’s website here.