So you want to maintain a Healthy Heart? A study has shown that Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of your heart becomes blocked. This is often the result of plaque build-up in your arteries (atherosclerosis), which may rupture and form a blood clot that blocks blood flow. The good news is that some simple, everyday habits can make a big difference in your ability to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Five Lifestyle Changes for a Healthy Heart
You’re probably already aware that your lifestyle plays a role in your risk of heart disease (and heart attacks), but perhaps you’ve not yet taken it to heart… Count on these five white Tips to protect your heart.
1. Avoid tobacco.
Smoking cigarettes is tied to a number of potentially fatal health problems, including cancer, lung disease, stroke, and heart disease. Even if you have no other risk factors, smoking raises your risk of developing heart disease by two to four times, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Smoking causes plaque buildup and hardened arteries, both of which make your heart work harder.
Smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes is as bad for the heart and arteries as it is for the lungs. If you smoke, quitting is the biggest gift of health you can give yourself. Secondhand smoke is also toxic, so avoid it whenever possible.
2. Drink alcohol in moderation (if at all).
3. Manage stress.
Stress causes strain on the heart, which creates a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
4. Eat Healthy
To prevent or manage high cholesterol, steer clear of foods that are high in saturated fats — such as marbled cuts of beef, processed meats, and desserts like packaged cookies, cakes, and candies. The fat in these foods raises levels of bad cholesterol, which can lead to plaque in your arteries and cause blockage over time. Add fruits and vegetables, whole grains, unsaturated fat, good protein (from beans, nuts, fish, and poultry), and herbs and spices.
5. Maintain a healthy weight.
Weight extremes can also increase your risk for heart disease. If you are overweight, losing just 5% to 10% of your starting weight can make a big difference in your blood pressure and blood sugar. Also, Obesity can increase the risk for heart disease even if you have no other risk factors and Carrying extra pounds, especially around the belly, strains the heart and tips you toward diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight is important to protect your heart from damage or fatigue.
6. Be active.
Exercise and physical activity are about the closest things you have to magic bullets against heart disease and other chronic conditions. Any amount of activity is better than none; at least 30 minutes a day is best.
Having specific, achievable goals is a key strategy for successful change. Goals that involve behaviors (“I will eat three servings of whole grains a day”) tend to work better than physiological goals (“I will lower my cholesterol”).
Track your progress.
With all the things you have to remember each day, it’s hard to know whether you are meeting your daily goals. Keeping track of steps taken each day gives important feedback about your progress. You can do this with a notebook or Notepad App.
Changing a habit or behavior is easier if you have a good reason for doing it. Hearing your doctor say “You need to quit smoking” isn’t nearly as compelling a reason to stop as having a family member or friend diagnosed with lung cancer. Motivation can be something big, like getting in shape for a walking trip with a grandchild, or small, like fitting into a slimmer suit for a wedding. The more personal the motivator, the better.
Starting a change isn’t nearly as challenging as sticking with it. Support from family, friends, a doctor, or someone else and even from an online community — can provide feedback and encouragement. Sharing a daily walk or a weight-loss program with an exercise or diet “buddy” makes it more fun and harder to slack off.
You don’t need to aim for a complete transformation all at once. Small changes in diet, exercise, or weight can make a big difference in your health. Setting goals you can realistically achieve, and then meeting them, can snowball into even bigger improvements.
Have a Heart issue or trouble quitting a bad habit or Lifestyle? Let us know in the comments section.
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