Five Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Heart
The average American adult’s heart is seven years older than it should be.1 Years of unhealthy lifestyle choices can age hearts prematurely and leave them vulnerable to serious heart conditions. American Heart Month is the perfect time to begin implementing small changes to your everyday routine to reduce your chance of heart disease and keep your heart healthy.
Ways to improve heart health:
- Establish healthy eating habits
It sounds obvious, but eating healthy is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Choosing a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fish as well as limiting sodium, saturated fat and sugar intake can help control cholesterol and blood pressure. Need a snack? Consider replacing junk food with heart-healthy walnuts, almonds and peanuts.
- Move, move, move
Many people spend the majority of their day sitting. Working at a computer. Driving. Texting. Watching TV. Making physical activity a priority is critical to keep the heart and blood vessels healthy. Try standing or taking a walk around the office every 30–60 minutes. Park farther away from the building. Take the stairs. Just getting up and moving can help reduce your risk for heart disease and obesity, which can put extra stress on your heart.
- Quit smoking
Smokers are at high risk for heart disease. Tobacco smoke harms blood cells and damages heart and blood vessel function. Even secondhand smoke can lower HDL (good) cholesterol, raise blood pressure and damage heart tissues. Quitting smoking can actually reverse some of the damage and help protect loved ones from future heart issues.
- Manage stress
You probably know that stress speeds up your heart rate. But did you know that it also increases your blood pressure? High stress levels for extended periods of time can be very unhealthy for your heart. Test out different stress management techniques like meditation, taking up a hobby or exercising to find out what works for you.
- Get the right amount of sleep
Sleep is incredibly important for your heart and overall wellbeing. Lack of sleep increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease—no matter how young you are or how much you exercise. For better sleep, establish consistent sleep habits, turn off computers and phones an hour before bedtime and avoid caffeine late in the day.
We want to help community members get engaged with their cardiovascular health. To find out your risk for a heart attack in the next 5–10 years, contact DRI Greensboro Imaging at (336) 433-5000. for a CT Cardiac Calcium Score test.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Heart Disease: It Can Happen at Any Age, cdc.gov