Since healthy lifestyles typically correlate with a healthy heart, it’s great knowing that even seemingly small lifestyle changes may improve your heart health. Take the time to learn how to decrease your risk of heart disease.
Sadly, up to 80% of the 17,000,000 annual deaths from heart disease worldwide could be prevented. Heart disease is often a silent killer, sneaking up slowly until suddenly, the heart damage becomes obvious.
You might be planning out your future, but a heart attack or heart disease could change everything. However, if you take time to learn about heart disease and its causes, you’ll become more aware of the daily choices you’re making. You don’t have to waste time worrying about the future if you actively work towards reducing the risk of heart disease and heart attack by making choices and changes to improve your health.
Causes of Heart Disease
There’s nothing newly discovered about heart disease. Basically, atherosclerosis is still the main enemy. A buildup of plaque in the lining of arteries over time hardens and narrows the arteries. The blood flow to vital organs and tissues becomes reduced, and finally, heart and blood vessels are hopelessly damaged.
Learn the 3 lifestyle habits most responsible for atherosclerosis:
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
These above-mentioned poor lifestyle choices, mixed with heavy doses of stress, can be a recipe for heart disease. Still, isn’t it good to know that risk factors like age and genetics may not be within your power to change, but daily lifestyle choices certainly are? Each person has the power to make healthy changes when they are ready.
Takeaway tip: Discover the causes of heart disease. Know the lifestyle choices that could promote heart problems. This way, you can make your own plan to make changes for the better.
How to Prevent Heart Problems
Our human bodies crave fresh, nutritious whole foods. When we eat well, our bodies can thrive and have optimal health with peak performance abilities. On the other hand, fast foods, processed foods, and poor eating habits can clog arteries with plaque, create high blood pressure, and raise cholesterol levels beyond healthy limits. Consume healthy fats, and smaller amounts of salt and sugar instead, and your heart health is likely to improve.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan and the Mediterranean Diet are the most recommended plans for eating towards heart health. They’re each slightly different, but their foundations are similar.
Best diets for heart health include:
- Vegetables, including greens, broccoli, cabbage and carrots
- Colorful fruits, e.g. apples, berries, melons and oranges and citrus fruits
- Whole grains
- Quality proteins
- Coldwater fish
- Fresh eggs
- Healthy fats, from seeds, nuts, and avocados
Whole nutrient-rich food helps keep you feel satiated longer, but don’t give in to processed foods or drinks heavy in salt, sugar, and alcohol or it will undo your good work.
Takeaway Tip: Decide on just one healthy addition to your diet this week. At the same time, eliminate one processed food. Yes, it definitely is possible achieving two changes to better health within a week! Consider fresh fruit in the morning instead of a sugary blueberry muffin, for example.
Get More Exercise
Increasing physical activity can improve your health. Get up and move around often throughout the day because activity helps to reduce the four most common risk factors for heart disease.
Getting more exercise:
- may decrease high cholesterol
- decreases high blood pressure
- helps with weight loss
- lowers the likelihood of type 2 diabetes
You’ll probably want to get more exercise after reading the above list. Try for 180 minutes per week, or a minimum of 20 minutes per day. Health experts recommend keeping your heartbeat elevated for at least 10 minutes at a time. Walking is a great choice, but you might add swimming, dancing, bicycling or weight lifting for exercise instead. It’s all good for you!
Takeaway Tip: Increase your activity by at least 5 minutes each day. Do something simple, like turning on music and dancing in the privacy of your home! Small things do add up, too, so park a little further away from the store so you have to walk further to get inside!
Smoking isn’t an option. Just stop! Nicotine reduces the size of blood vessels, contributing to damage by carbon monoxide. It can destroy the insides of your heart vessels and it creates a great risk of heart disease. Sure, it can be challenging to break this habit, but you just need to remember it’s a lifestyle choice, and it’s within your control. It may be hard to quit… but it’s achievable and people do it all the time. Ask your doctor about local cessation programs or types of products that might help you quit.
Takeaway Tip: Keep your reasons to quit smoking top of mind by listing them on a post-it note and putting it where you’ll see it often. Do you want to generally feel better, be able to do more, or play games with your grandkids? Decide what motivates you!
High inflammation in the body happens after suffering prolonged stress, but these levels can be reduced and managed before arteries are severely damaged. Highly emotional circumstances often precede heart attacks, so don’t let yourself get too far out of control! Do you find yourself drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and suppressing emotions as ways to reduce stress? You might want to find some alternate strategies for relieving stress instead.
How about these options:
- Talk to a mental health provider for different strategies
- Increase daily physical activity
- Release hurts and frustrations
- Enjoy your relationships with full intention
Remember that our personal responses to life’s challenges are within our control!
Takeaway Tip: Are you ready to make some change? How about this one new daily habit? Try writing five items you’re grateful for in the morning or learn deep breathing techniques.
Try to know and understand all that you can in order to prevent heart disease. Understand your personal risk factors so you are able to make positive lifestyle changes. Stay focused and be willing to change. Consider heart disease risks that could affect you, then take simple steps, because even small healthy habits will make a difference!