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February Is American Heart Month

Tips for a Healthy Heart

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. That is eye opening! What can you do to prevent heart disease? I am glad you asked.

There are several no cost ways to reduce your risk of heart disease. First, for those of you who smoke, stop smoking. Individuals who smoke have a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis-which means a build of fatty substances in the arteries. Additionally, smoking can cause lung disease, stroke, and eye disease. Smoking cessation is not easy so I recommend  checking out the 5 steps to quit smoking and vaping from the American Heart Association.

Another way to reduce your risk of heart disease is to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can cause high blood pressure which creates extra work on the heart. Overweight and obesity can also contribute to the development of diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers. Weight loss can be achieved through healthy eating, physical exercise, stress reduction, and behavior change. For more information about how you can safely lose weight, contact me for a complimentary consultation at bwweightmanagement.com

Physical activity is another great and no cost way to reduce your risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days of the week. For some, this may be challenging. There are ways to incorporate short durations of exercise into your day such as taking a 15-minute walk, jogging, biking, or swimming. You can begin by trying the 10-minute home workout at the American Heart Association website.

Likewise, eating healthy reduces your risk of developing heart disease. Eating whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables provides you with a good source of vitamins and minerals. Many of these contain beta carotene and vitamin which work as antioxidants in your body. Antioxidants can slow down or prevent atherosclerosis be reducing the build up of plaque from cholesterol in the arteries. Whole grain foods such as whole wheat bread contain fiber and other nutrients that can help reduce blood pressure. It is also important to limit your intake of unhealthy fats such as trans-fat. The American Heart Association recommends avoiding trans-fat and limiting saturate fats to less than 6% of your total daily calories. About 11-13 grams if you are eating 2,000 calories per day. Selecting low fat protein such as lean meat, poultry and fish also contributes to healthy eating. It is very important to limit or reduce your salt intake. Too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure. Try seasoning your food with spices or salt free seasoning. Avoid processed and canned foods because they usually contain a large amount of added salt. A simple way to eat healthy is to control your portion size. When you prepare your food, use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. For more information on healthy eating see Eat Smart on the American Heart Association’s website.

Stress reduction is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. We are living in a busy world with so much information coming at us from all different directions. This makes it difficult to relax. It is important to understand that stress increases the cortisol levels in your body which in turn can lead to weight gain. Overweight and obesity are key risk factors for developing heart disease.  It is important for all of us to take care of our mental health. Meditation is one way you can reduce your stress levels. Meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and depression, and improves sleep.  Mindfulness Meditation is a great way to reduce stress. Check out the article on Mindfulness Mediation at verywell mind.com

There are many ways to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Do not overwhelm yourself by trying to do all of them at one time.  I recommend trying one of these tips with your family or a friend. One step at a time, one day at a time until you achieve your goal to leading a healthy life.

References

American Heart Association. (2023, Jan. 3). Healthy Living. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living

Cherry, Kendra (2022, Sept. 22). What is Mindfulness Meditation? https://www.verywellmind.com/mindfulness-meditation-88369