In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. By making small lifestyle changes, you can reduce and prevent the chances of cardiovascular disease in your lifetime. February marks American Heart Month, which helps raise awareness on heart disease and how it can be prevented.
Here are 7 ways you can improve your overall heart health:
- Know your numbers – Regularly check your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and get tested for diabetes.
- Move your body –At least 30 minutes a day of heart-pumping exercise can improve your cardiovascular health, keep your heart strong and a great way to lose weight.
- Improve your diet – Reduce saturated and trans-fat, excessive salt and sugar. Keeping in mind portion size: include lean sources of protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables.
- Get some sleep – A good night’s sleep of 6-8 hours gives your body a chance to recharge, boosts your immune system, and helps with your overall mood.
- Quit smoking –Smoking triples the risk of dying from heart disease. It increases blood pressure, decreases exercise tolerance and increases clotting factors in the blood that can lead to a stroke.
- Drink in moderation – Drinking too much alcohol can raise the levels of some fats in the blood (triglycerides). It can also lead to high blood pressure, heart failure and an increased calorie intake. The AHA recommends an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. (A drink is one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits.)
- Relieve some stress – Kick stress to the curb by engaging in relaxing hobbies and exercise programs such as yoga, knitting, reading, or painting.
Making these simple adjustments to your lifestyle may seem overwhelming at first. However, targeting specific goals one at a time will motivate you to stay on a path of heart-healthy habits that can help reduce and prevent heart disease in your lifetime.