Heart disease is the No. 1 killer among American men and women. It accounts for about one in four deaths in the US per year. In the US, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. These statistics are scary, but science tells us exactly how to turn them around. We have a wealth of information about preventing heart disease at your fingertips. Still, the numbers of cases remain high.
Preventing heart disease is, frankly, easy for people who don̵
For the most part, however, the average person can significantly reduce their risk of heart disease with simple lifestyle changes such as the nine steps outlined here.
Take a daily walk
Decades of research support cardiovascular exercise as the first defense against heart disease. Walking is an easy, simple way to do cardio exercise, and you can do it just about anywhere outside or outside.
Studies show that walking can prevent the risk of cardiovascular disease, even though it is a less intensive form than other forms of cardio training, such as walking, jogging or cycling. Additionally, research suggests that more people adhere to a walking plan over time than other types of exercise, making walking more effective in the long run (no exercise is effective if you don’t stick it up).
And that is always possibleif you want to improve your health even further.
2. Strength training a few times a week
Most research on heart health and exercise has focused on aerobic exercise such as walking. An emerging body of research points to resistance training as another way to reduce your risk of heart disease. In fact, a 2018 study found that lifting weights for less than an hour a week can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke by as much as 70% – independent of aerobic exercise, making these results even more important.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, this profound effect likely has something to do with the way weight lifting changes your body composition. Weight lifting helps you build muscle and lose fat. Excess body fat is a major risk factor for heart disease, so any exercise that helps you reduce body fat is helpful.
YOUto start strength training. like air squats, push-ups, and lunges, provide the same tonic benefits at home.
Eat heart-healthy foods
Many delicious foods have a direct link to improved heart health. In general, a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats from nuts, seeds, fish, and oils promotes heart health. If you don’t have access to fresh produce, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables work just as well (just keep in mind the salt intake when eating canned foods).
The American Heart Association points out the importance ofand . Eating healthy is an important part of improving heart health, but so is maintaining a healthy body weight. If you need a template to follow, the DASH Diet, the Mayo Clinic Diet, and all contain heart-healthy foods.
Limit foods linked to heart disease
On the other hand, several foods have a direct link with heart disease. To reduce your risk of heart disease, limit foods high in fat and high in sugar, such as potato chips and store-bought desserts. Highly processed foods, including most fast foods, deli meats (think hot dogs and cured meats), and boxed snacks like Twinkies and crackers, also contain ingredients that are harmful to your heart.
Pay special attention to trans fats (hydrogenated oils) and high-fructose corn syrup, two important indicators that food is not good for your heart. Trans fats increase “badly”and triglycerides in your blood, while high fructose corn syrup is a cause of several heart disease risk factors and comorbidities.
Side note: Don’t fear saturated fat on its own, as research has debunked the myth that saturated fat only leads to heart disease. Many healthy foods, such as avocados and cheese, contain saturated fats. Processed foods are often high in saturated fat, but it’s the trans fats and refined carbohydrates to watch out for.
5. Quit smoking
It is now common knowledge that smoking is simply bad for your health. Your heart is no exception. According to the Food and Drug Administration, cigarette smoking is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.
Smoking harms your cardiovascular system in a number of ways: it builds up plaque in your arteries, changes your blood chemistry and thickens the blood, and permanently damages your heart muscle and blood vessels. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says even an occasional cigarette can do significant damage.
6. Limit alcohol consumption
We are not here to tell you that you cannot enjoy your favorite cocktail or have a cold cocktail on match day, but we would be remiss if we did not mention the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. Drinking too much is generally bad for all of your body systems.
Specifically with regard to heart health, alcohol has been linked to several cardiovascular conditions, including hypertension, coronary artery disease, peripheral heart disease and stroke. However, the exact relationships vary greatly depending on quantity and consumption pattern.
The American Heart Association maintains that drinking in moderation is okay, but once you get past that point (one drink a day for women and two for men) it gets worse. And no, the link between red wine and heart health isn’t that clear.
7. Keep the stress level low
More research is needed to understand exactly how stress contributes to heart disease, but scientists have observed a link between stress and heart health. For starters, high levels of chronic stress can lead to unhealthy coping habits, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or eating lots of high-fat or sugary foods. Stress also undermines your body’s ability to rest and sleep.
Researchers have even identified a specific and unusual type of heart attack called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as stress cardiomyopathy and “broken heart syndrome.” This condition has been linked to emotional trauma, but many patients with this condition do not show an identifiable cause.
So don’t underestimate the impact of stress on your heart. While stress is sometimes unavoidable and unavoidable, it helps to have a handfulto rely on in times of extreme coercion.
8. Prioritize sleep
If there were a miracle drug, sleep probably would be, with exercise a close second. Scientists have positioned sleep deprivation as a risk factor for heart disease because of the inverse relationship between sleep duration and cardiovascular disease: It appears that the less sleep you get, the higher your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Insomnia and sleep apnea have also been linked to heart disease, and the duration and quality of sleep appear to have a direct effect on blood pressure. Indirectly, sleep deprivation causes people to make poorer food choices and not be motivated to exercise, both of which increase the risk of heart disease.
9. Consult your physician and keep medical records
If you can, schedule an annual check-up with your doctor to make sure everything is okay.
Getting a blood panel to check for cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and other important health markers can help you keep a close eye on your heart health. If you don’t have a primary care physician, call the nearest emergency room or walk-in clinic to see if they offer basic blood tests. At least,Right away gives you an indication of how you are doing. so you can identify any changes or patterns over time.
If there is any indication of heart disease, have no fear. Make sure you understand what the numbers mean, what changes you may need to make in your lifestyle, and whether you need medication. Being an advocate for your own health goes a long way.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.