Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. In fact, as many as one in four deaths every year are caused by heart disease. The good news? Heart disease is preventable. Making small, simple, changes to your everyday life significantly decrease your chances of suffering from heart disease. In honor of American Heart Month, let’s take a look at a few of the ways you can protect you, and your loved ones, from heart disease.
- Eat Healthy
A healthy diet will go a long way towards preventing heart disease. Keep the fatty, high-sodium foods to a minimum, and focus on healthier options like leafy greens, lean protein, healthy nuts like walnuts and almonds. As a rule, the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the better, but don’t feel like a heart-healthy diet means never getting a treat. Dark chocolate and the occasional glass of red wine make great options for treats that are as kind to your heart as they are to your mental state.
- Stay Active
Like any muscle, your heart needs exercise to stay strong and healthy. Find some time every day to be active and your heart will thank you. If the idea of daily exercise is overwhelming, start small. Take a walk around your neighborhood if the weather is nice, or at the mall if the weather isn’t. Take the stairs at work, instead of relying on the elevator. Instead of cruising the parking lot looking for the closest spot, snag the one farthest from the door, and take advantage of the extra steps. Any activity is good activity!
- Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you follow the first two tips on this list, it’s safe to say that a healthy weight will follow, which is great news for your heart. Weight fluctuations put your heart under a lot of stress, and increase your chances of suffering from heart disease. If you find yourself struggling with your weight, reach out to your medical provider. He or she will have all kinds of resources for you to take advantage of, and will be happy to set you on the path towards maintaining a healthy weight.
- Manage Stress
Heart healthy living isn’t all about physical routines. Your mental health impacts your heart as well. When you’re stressed, your heart is stressed, so it’s important to manage your mental health just as well as you manage your physical health for overall heart healthy living. Take some time every day that is just for you, and unwind. Meditation, journaling, reading, or listening to music are all great ways to de-stress every day. If you find that you’re having a hard time managing your stress, please call your doctor. He or she will be happy to help you find healthy ways of managing your stress. Your heart will thank you!
- Stay Away from Smoke
There’s no way to sugarcoat this: smoking seriously increases your risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, when you smoke, your heart isn’t the only one that suffers. Secondhand smoke also increases the risk of heart disease in everyone around you. If you smoke, try to keep your home smoke-free, in order to keep your loved ones safe. However, the best solution is to quit smoking entirely, although that is much easier said than done. If you’re ready to take the steps to quit smoking, call your doctor. He or she will help you come up with a plan to successfully quit smoking for good.