February 4, 2019
Can lifestyle choices lower your risk for heart disease? Researchers say it can. Use these tips to lower your risk for heart disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Despite all of the advances in medicine, cardiac-related illnesses claim more lives than any other disease or medical condition. Estimates are that one in four deaths can be attributed to heart disease.
But researchers say it doesn’t have to be this way. Many of the risk factors for heart disease can be controlled with lifestyle modifications. In honor of National Heart Month, here is a list of steps you can take to lower your risk for heart disease.
Lifestyle Choices that Lower Your Risk for Heart Disease
- Kick the habit: Smoking is one of the leading causes of heart disease. One out of five heart-related deaths in this country can be attributed to cigarette smoking. If you are a smoker, do your heart a favor and stop.
- Stay active: A sedentary lifestyle or a lack of exercise also raises the risk for heart disease. You can manage that by exercising at least 150 minutes a week and avoid sitting for long periods of time.
- Skip processed foods: Americans eat a lot of packaged and processed foods. While they are convenient when the days are busy, these types of foods are typically high in sodium. Too much sodium increases blood pressure putting you at a higher risk for cardiac-related illnesses.
- Eat a healthy breakfast: Leaving the house without eating a healthy breakfast increases the likelihood that you will binge on unhealthy fare later. Foods like doughnuts and pastries are high in saturated fat and low in protein. Opt for a well-balanced breakfast high in fiber and protein, such as a bowl of oatmeal or a smoothie.
- Get a good night’s rest: Many people underestimate the importance of sleep. Too little sleep increases the chance of making bad choices during the day, such as eating the wrong foods or sitting too much. Most health experts recommend seven-to-nine hours of sleep each night.
- Eat sweets in moderation: Elevated blood sugar levels have been linked to heart disease, especially among women. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars in your diet to six teaspoons per day for women and nine teaspoons per day for men.
- Limit alcohol consumption: Many people are surprised to learn that consuming too much alcohol can also put you at risk for heart disease. While some studies show red wine may be good for your heart, moderation is the key. Talk with your physician for a recommendation on how much alcohol is acceptable based on your personal medical history.
- Manage daily stress: While it’s unrealistic to think you can completely eliminate stress from your life, finding healthy ways to manage stress is important for your heart. Walking, swimming, meditating, Pilates, and yoga are a few methods to try.
- Drink green tea: Another way to keep your heart healthy is drinking green tea every day. Researchers say green tea may help manage LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which are both risk factors for heart disease.
- Find a doctor you trust: Having a close relationship with a physician can help you manage your overall health and well-being, including your heart. You are more likely to stay on track with preventative tests and screenings if you are comfortable with your physician.
- Learn about Blue Zones: There are areas around the globe where people live longer, healthier lives. They are referred to as Blue Zones. People who live in these areas have lower incidences of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
- Get organized: When your life and home are cluttered and disorganized, you are more likely to feel stressed and even depressed. By getting clutter under control and organizing your life, you reduce stress and improve your well-being.
- Learn to journal: Keeping a daily journal, one that you use to document the day’s ups and downs, is another heart-healthy step you can take. If you are a caregiver, it can be an especially effective tool for managing caregiver stress.
To learn more about heart health, we encourage you to visit the American Heart Association online. You’ll find a variety of heart-related resources that range from recipes to research projects.
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