Improve Heart Health: 10 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease | Blog

Improve Heart Health: 10 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

  Posted: Feb 06, 2020

  Category: health and wellness

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Because February is American Heart Month, it’s important to focus on ways to improve your heart health. In many cases, living a healthy lifestyle and keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.  
Here are 10 ways to lower your risk of heart disease and improve your heart health:
  1. Quit Smoking - Cigarette smoke reduces the oxygen in your blood, which increases your blood pressure and heart rate because your heart has to work harder to supply enough oxygen to your body and brain. Stop smoking and your risk will start reducing in as a little as a day after quitting.
  2. Limit alcohol - Drinking too much alcohol can increase the risk for death, heart disease, and liver disease. Studies show harm occurs when individuals consume more than 100 grams of alcohol per week. Limit alcohol intake as much as possible. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day, and women no more than 1 drink per day. 
  3. Get moving – Physical activity helps you control your weight and reduces your chances of developing other conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. Aim for 30-60 minutes of regular activity daily. Even activities like gardening, taking the stairs, or a brisk walk around the block can do wonders for your health.
  4. Control high blood pressure - Over 50 million people in the U.S. have hypertension or high blood pressure, making it the most common heart disease risk factor. Exercise and healthy eating as well as avoiding salt help reduce your blood pressure. Make sure to get your blood pressure checked every two years. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will measure your blood pressure more often to make sure you have the condition under control.
  5. Follow a heart-healthy diet – A heart-healthy eating plan includes: vegetables and fruits, beans or other legumes, lean meats and fish, low-fat or fat-free dairy foods, whole grains, and healthy fats, such as olive oil. Limit salt to lower blood pressure. Limit sugar to prevent or help control diabetes.
  6. Maintain a healthy weight - Carrying extra weight can put extra stress on the heart and blood vessels and increase the risk for developing heart disease — including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. Even a small weight loss can be beneficial. Reducing your weight by just 3% to 5% can help decrease certain fats in your blood (triglycerides), lower your blood sugar (glucose) and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
  7. Get adequate sleep - Guidelines from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend adults get at least seven hours of sleep per night. Studies report that getting less than this amount is associated with heart disease risk factors like higher stress, increased inflammation, high blood pressure, and weight gain.
  8. Manage diabetes. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels carefully. Talk with your doctor about treatment options. Your doctor may recommend certain lifestyle changes to help keep your blood sugar under control. These actions will help reduce your risk for heart disease.
  9. Improve cholesterol levels - You're more likely to get heart disease if you have: Total cholesterol level over 200, HDL cholesterol level under 40, LDL cholesterol level over 160, and Triglycerides over 150. To help lower cholesterol levels, eat a diet low in cholesterol, saturated fat and refined sugars, and high in fiber.
  10. Manage stress and anger. Stress and anger are never good for your health especially for your heart. Often people cope with stress and anger in unhealthy ways like drinking, overeating, and smoking. Find positive ways to control stress and anger and improve your health.
Changes do not happen overnight, but taking steps every day to improve your heart health will pay off in the long-term.