Know Your Family History
If your family has a history of heart disease, you’re probably at risk too. Find out everything you can about your family history. Is heart disease common? At what age? How severely? How did those people live? The more you know, the better you can live your life in comparison.
Control Your Blood Pressure
Watch your blood pressure because hypertension, or high blood pressure, is known to raise the risk for heart disease. Because there are no symptoms that are exclusive to high blood pressure, you’ll need to frequently check your blood pressure. And although there are no symptoms for hypertension, that’s just because it’s a precursor to many other terrible things, like heart disease or stroke.
Watch Your Cholesterol
Cholesterol is needed for your body to function, but too much of a good thing is always a bad thing. Make sure your HDL levels, aka your good cholesterol levels, are high and your LDL levels, aka the bad cholesterol, are low by limiting saturated fats and avoiding trans fats. When you have too much high cholesterol, it will clog your arteries, raising your risk for heart disease.
Watch Your Weight
Watching your weight is about more than just looking good at the beach or fitting into your favorite pair of jeans. It’s an extremely complicated relationship, but obesity has been known to double your risk of heart disease. Even reducing your weight by a few pounds will dramatically help your overall health, not just your risk of heart disease.
Limiting your intake of saturated fats, high-sodium foods, and added sugars will limit a lot of the junk modern diets put our bodies through. Replacing these foods with healthy foods will take it a step further and give our bodies what it needs. For heart disease prevention, go out of your way for heart-healthy foods like red vegetables, salmon, nuts, berries, and beans.
Exercise seems to be on every conceivable health list, and there’s a reason for that: it works. It’s obviously a great way to lose weight and improve your daily routine, but it also strengthens your heart and improves circulation, two things that will fight heart disease. Exercising for 30 minutes two to three days a week prevents mid-sized arteries from aging, and bumping that up to four to five days can help even your larger arteries.
At the end of a long day, it’s nice to pour yourself a glass of your choice poison, sit back, and relax with loved ones. It’s not, however, healthy to indulge too much. Men shouldn't have more than two glasses of alcohol a day, and women shouldn't have more than one. Drinking more than three will temporarily raise your blood pressure, while consistently drinking more than one or two will raise it over time.
At this point, the world is well aware that smoking is very, very dangerous to your health. Not only is smoking linked to 16 different types of cancer, but it’s been known to cause heart disease as well. This even includes second-hand smoke, which is even more cancerous than mainstream smoking. Overall, smoking will damage the lining of your arteries, allowing fats to build up, clogging the arteries. This, of course, leads to heart disease.
Some people suggest e-cigarettes as a cession technique because they’re “healthier” than regular cigarettes. In reality, they’re just as dangerous, especially for your lungs. Speak with your doctor about which cession technique is best for you.
80% of Americans claim to experience stress on a frequent basis, but how often do people go about trying to keep their stress down? Not very much, which is a problem because stress does lead to heart problems. In fact, like most other things that can be done to prevent heart disease, learning to manage your stress will help your overall health levels. Not doing so can lead to higher blood pressure and heart attacks, in addition to heart disease.
A number of dietary changes can be put in place to help prevent diabetes, but if you have already been diagnosed, managing your diabetes goes a long way. If not, diabetes will damage your blood vessels and nerves. In fact, most people with diabetes die of heart disease, so taking care of your diabetes is especially important because people with diabetes are at an even higher risk of heart disease.
Get Enough Sleep
For some reason, most people don’t seem to think of sleep when they think of healthy lifestyle changes. Without sleep, though, your body will fall into disrepair. As it relates to heart disease, getting enough high-quality sleep will give your heart time to rest and will provide your heart with the specific proteins it needs.
Our culture is very sedentary now, but humans were made to move around. Most of us sit at work for eight hours a day, commute another hour (or two), and then watch five hours of TV. That's 14 hours of sitting, which is especially dangerous because excessive sitting has been linked to numerous health issues, even for people who exercise. Make sure you take breaks from sitting, going on walks and standing while you work. Walk or bike to places nearby.
Drink Red Wine
Nobody is 100% sure why there is a connection between drinking red wine and a healthy heart, but nobody is complaining. It’s an excuse to drink wine! (In moderation, of course). It's supposed to provide your body with crucial antioxidants, reduce the “bad cholesterol,” and prevent blood clots. Plus, it makes dinner more fun! What’s not to love?
Regular Doctor Check-Ups
It should go without saying, but make sure you have regular check-ups. They are the only ones who can't catch, diagnose, and treat your problems with accuracy. The older you are or the higher your family history of heart disease is, the more important regular doctor’s visits are because your risk factors are higher. And when you go, make sure to ask them what you personally can do better about preventing and managing heart disease in your life.
Science is always changing. Because of this, doctors are always finding new causes for diseases and treatments for diseases. This is especially true for heart disease, considering its prevalence in Western societies. Watch for new developments so that you always know the best way to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Increase Healthy Fat Intake
We always hear how bad fat is, but there are good fats out there that can help strengthen the heart. Increasing your intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are beneficial in the long run. Foods like olive oil and avocado are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Watch Your Triglyceride Levels
Triglycerides are another type of fatty acid in the body. When they’re high, you’re putting your health in danger. High triglycerides could raise your risk of heart disease, especially if you already have high cholesterol. The best way to lower triglyceride levels is by following a heart-healthy diet and exercising regularly.
Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Even if a sugar is natural, it’s still bad for you. Things like agave and honey are still processed like sugar and can still pack on pounds. Limiting sugars may be difficult, but doing so unveils a host of health benefits from lower weight to a healthier heart and less inflammation. Sugars like stevia and erythritol are low on the glycemic index, so a much better choice for your body and sweet tooth.
Know the Warning Signs
No matter who you are, you should know the signs of heart disease. Symptoms can include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea, indigestion, heartburn, stomach pain, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, pain that spreads to the arm, throat or jaw pain, and a cough that won’t quit.
Take Your Medication
If your doctor prescribes you medication, take it as prescribed. Your doctor knows what’s best for you more often than not, so stopping your medication (even though you feel better) could lead to serious health problems.
Eat More Fish
According to the American Heart Association, eating two servings of fish per week has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, sardines, swordfish, tuna, and pollock.
Treat Mental Problems
Good mental health is paramount to a healthy heart. The American Heart Association found that there’s a strong link between depression and heart disease. Not only can it increase the risk of heart disease, but it could also appear following a heart attack. Keeping anxiety and depression in check is the first step to a healthy body.
Use Aspirin When Appropriate
Many people are told to take aspirin as a preventative measure against heart attack or stroke. While it’s ideal for that person, it may not be for everyone. Taking daily aspirin without being told could increase the risk of bleeding while doing nothing to help your heart.
Reduce Your Sodium Intake
Many prepared food options are filled with sugar, and this sugar can increase your blood pressure without you even knowing it. The best option is to avoid excessive sodium by choosing fresh foods. In addition to this, read the labels of your favorite items to ensure you’re not getting too much.
Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods are pretty bad for us. They’re high in carbs, fat, sodium, and sugar. A new study published in BMJ found that those with more processed food in their diet had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
This one is about more than just moving around. Being outside gives you a big dose of vitamin D. According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, 400 IU of vitamin D can help regulate blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve cardiovascular strength.
Slow Down on Caffeine
Caffeine has benefits, but drinking too much can actually hurt you rather than help. Drinking more than a cup or two of coffee can increase irritability, dress, and even increase your blood pressure. Over time, this increases your risk of heart disease.
Buy a Home Filter
According to a study published on NCBI, air pollution can cause cardiovascular problems as well as atherosclerosis (or plaque buildup on the inner walls of the arteries). To combat this, get an excellent filter to remove any particulate matter from the air.
Maintain Good Dental Hygiene
The American Heart Association reported that poor dental hygiene could lead to an increase in heart issues. Gum disease, in particular, is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. Make sure to floss and brush every day to keep those pearly whites fresh!