In honor of American Heart Month, C & A Scientific has several recommendations for improving your heart health. Even if you consider your heart to be in good health, preventative measures can help ensure you are not part of the 25% of yearly deaths in the United States caused by heart disease or heart-related causes.
Among these causes of death, coronary heart disease is the leader, causing 360,900 deaths yearly. Heart disease and heart attacks are terrifying because they often occur silently, and damage occurs before patients receive help.
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Here are some ways to protect your heart health today with C & A.
How to Protect Your Heart Health
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthier diet is an excellent way to improve heart health! There are several changes you can make to optimize your diet for improved heart health. These methods include but are not limited to adding more vegetables and fruits, reducing sodium, limiting unhealthy fats, and controlling portion size.
Foods you should eat on a heart-healthy plan:
- Whole grains: brown rice, oatmeal
- Protein: eggs, tuna, lean meat, kidney beans
- Fruits: prunes, oranges, apples, bananas
- Vegetables: kale, spinach, broccoli
- Oils and fats: Olive oil, almonds, salmon, sunflower seeds, avocados
Foods you should avoid:
- Sodium: reduce salt intake
- Added sugars: corn syrup, glucose, fructose
- Saturated fats: fatty meats, whole dairy products, lard
- Alcohol: increases blood pressure
Control portion sizes using a small plate or bowl to help you maintain your portion intake. Heart-healthy diets are essential in improving heart health, as unhealthy diets can be one of the leading causes of heart disease.
Exercise is excellent for heart health because it helps lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and regulate blood sugar. It can also help the heart’s arteries dilate more readily.
Here is a list of exercises to improve your heart health:
- Stretching: allows your body to do exercises that help your heart, such as aerobics and strength training. Always stretch before any workout.
Aerobics: lowers heart rate and blood pressure while improving how your heart pumps. Some ways to include aerobic exercises into your workout with cycling, walking, or swiming for at least 30 minutes every day.
- Strength Training: combining strength training with aerobics raises good types of cholesterol. Strength training also reduces body fat, which contributes to your risk of heart issues.
Exercise also allows the body to go into a state of ischemic preconditioning, which can reduce damage to the heart by 50% in the case of a heart attack later in life.
Get Better Sleep
Sleep is critical for improving heart health. Most adults require at least seven hours of sleep each night. Consistently sleeping poorly can increase the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. There are several ways to improve the length and quality of your sleep.
Improve your sleep by:
- Sticking to a regular sleep schedule.
- Getting enough physical activity early in the day.
- Avoiding artificial light.
- Not eating or drinking close to bedtime.
- Keeping your room dark and cool.
Stress reduction is crucial for improving your heart health. While the body’s natural stress response to challenges or demands can be a helpful motivator, it can be highly detrimental to the heart over time. An elevated heart rate and blood pressure can increase the risk of heart problems later in life.
Managing stress can include:
- Reducing stress triggers.
- Practicing mindfulness.
- Following your values.
- Setting reasonable expectations.
Short-term measures for intense stress include deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditations, and mental imagery relaxation. Research mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques online to learn more.
Check out our “Break Habits-Get Healthy with 3 New Year’s Tips” blog for more exercise, nutrition, and sleep information.
Look Out for Signs of Heart Disease
Early signs of heart disease can easily be mistaken for other ailments. These symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Cold sweat
- Arrhythmia (heart palpitations)
Schedule an echocardiogram or stress test if you suspect early signs of heart disease.
C & A Scientific’s Commitment to Improving Health
If you incorporate these easy changes during this heart health month, you can significantly lower your risk for heart disease. C & A encourages you to try these practices and consult your doctor for any further questions or concerns.
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