- Live smoke-free. For a person who smokes, quitting can seem like an insurmountable task, but it is the number one thing you can do to improve your heart health. Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease and according to the CDC, causes one of every four deaths from the disease. Smoking can…
- Raise triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood)
- Lower “good” cholesterol (HDL)
- Make blood sticky and more likely to clot, which can block blood flow to the heart and brain
- Damage cells that line the blood vessels
- Increase the buildup of plaque (fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances) in blood vessels
- Cause thickening and narrowing of blood vessels
- Monitor your blood pressure. Aiming for a blood pressure under 120/80 mm Hg can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. Continuous high blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart. Following a heart-healthy diet and exercising regularly can help maintain a healthy blood pressure. Talk to your doctor if you think your blood pressure is concerning.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Having a high body weight can be a contributing factor to cardiovascular disease. Being overweight can lead to fatty material building up in your arteries. When those arteries get clogged, it can lead to a heart attack. A healthy diet and regular cardiovascular exercises, as well as strength training, can help maintain a healthy weight.
- Get active! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity (like brisk walking) per week. Another great goal would be to strive for 10,000 steps per day. Even simple activities like walking can have a tremendous positive impact on your health. Your heart is a muscle, and like any other muscle, needs exercise to get stronger!
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. Make vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, and lean protein mealtime staples. Instead of focusing too much on what you must limit, focus on adding more of those heart-healthy foods into your everyday diet. Limiting sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar can also help maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle.
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