Did you know that 1-in-every-4 deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease?
That’s a pretty scary statistic, but the good news is that, even though heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women, we’re not powerless against it.
In honor of American Heart Month, we’re compiled ten tips to help you keep your heart healthy – six things you can start doing, and four things you can stop doing.
Six Things You Can Start Doing to Be Heart Healthy
#1: Get a good night’s sleep – every night.
A 2008 study from the University of Chicago showed a link between lack of sleep and heart disease. The theory, according to Discovery: Fit & Health, “is that a lack of sleep raises levels of a hormone called cortisol, which leads to inflammation and causes plaques to break apart, travel to the heart or brain and cause a stroke or heart attack.”
#2: Maintain a healthy weight.
It’s no secret that extra weight increases your risk of heart disease, so as you get older, it becomes more important than ever to maintain a healthy weight If you are overweight, even a small amount of weight loss can make a difference. According to Mayo Clinic. “Reducing your weight by just 10 percent can decrease your blood pressure, lower your blood cholesterol level and reduce your risk of diabetes.”
#3: Increase your physical activity.
In addition to helping with weight loss, regular exercise as plenty of other heart healthy benefits. Mayo Clinic recommends getting at least 30-60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity most days of the week, but encourages you not to give up if you can’t meet that goal. Try breaking your workouts up into 10-minute sessions. Try an indoor workout to escape the cold during the winter months.
#4: Get regular check-ups.
One of the biggest myths about heart health is that you don’t have to worry about it if you’re under 55. Not true, according to a recent article from Oprah.com: “Even if you’re young, your chances of developing heart disease increase at least tenfold when you have three or more risk factors–for instance, if you smoke, you’re overweight, you don’t exercise, and you’re chronically stressed.” They recommend that cholesterol checks began as early as age 20.
#5: Take good care of your teeth.
Okay, we know this sounds weird, there just might be a link between periodontal health and heart health. According to the American Academy of Periodontology: “While a cause-and-effect relationship has not yet been proven, research has indicated that periodontal disease increases the risk of heart disease.” So, take care of your chompers, because it might just help out your ticker, too!
#6: Research your family history
While having heart disease in your family doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re guaranteed to have heart problems of your own, it is good to know if you’re genetically predisposed. If your doctor knows ahead of time that you have a family history, it may help them spot a problem earlier.
Four Things You Can Stop Doing to be Heart-Healthy
In addition to the things that you should start doing, there are a few things that you can stop doing (or at least cut back on) to be more heart-healthy. Follow the links to find out what the American Heart Association has to say about the following:
#1: Quit smoking and/or using tobacco.
#2: Only drink alcohol in moderation.
#3: Minimize the stress in your life.
#4: Eliminate junk food from your diet.
Which of these changes will be the most difficult for you? Which will be the easiest? Let us know in the comments below.