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HEART HEALTH 101:
KEY HABITS FOR A LIFE FREE FROM HEART DISEASE

Practising a health-conscious way of life can play a pivotal role in safeguarding your overall well-being. It actively maintains optimal blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, thus drastically reducing the likelihood of heart disease and heart attacks. You commit to a healthy lifestyle by taking charge of your self-care and health preservation. 

Some Healthy Habits to Consider:

A Healthy Diet

- Prioritise fresh fruits and vegetables over processed foods. Avoid excessive saturated and trans fats, as they may increase the risk of heart disease. Opt for fibre-rich, low-saturated fat, and low-cholesterol foods to help prevent high cholesterol levels and promote heart health.
- Limit alcohol consumption to avoid elevating your blood pressure. Men should not exceed 2 drinks per day, while women should limit their intake to 1 drink per day.
​​(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023)​.

Exercise Regularly

- According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, you should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, or a balanced combination of both. Activities such as brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, and other aerobic exercises are all excellent choices.
- Remember, any level of activity exceeding inactive habits is beneficial. For instance, maintaining a daily step count of at least 4,400 steps is associated with a lower risk of death than only 2,700 steps per day.
​​(Yeh, 2019)​.

Maintain A Healthy Weight

Individuals who are overweight or obese face an increased risk of heart disease, as the additional weight strains blood vessels and the heart itself. Using a BMI calculator, you can determine your body mass index (BMI).

Conduct Regular Blood Pressure Checks

- Ensure you have your blood pressure monitored at least once every two years. If you have high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease, your healthcare provider may advise more frequent checks.
- High blood pressure, often referred to as hypertension, typically goes undetected, meaning there are few noticeable symptoms. This highlights the importance of regular monitoring. Your medical professional might recommend further lifestyle alterations in high blood pressure, such as reducing sodium intake or prescribing medication to effectively lower your blood pressure.

Take Your Medication as Intended

If you're on medication for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, following your medical professional's instructions is essential. Doing so helps you manage these conditions effectively and plays a crucial role in preventing heart disease.
​​(Cultivating Health, 2023)​.

Stop / Avoid Smoking

According to The Food and Drug Administration, cigarette smoking is a leading cause of heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes. Smoking damages the cardiovascular system through plaque buildup in arteries, altering blood chemistry, thickening blood, and causing lasting harm to the heart and blood vessels. Even occasional smoking can cause substantial damage.
​​(Capritto, 2023)​.

Prioritise Sleep

Sleep problems like sleep apnea and insomnia are linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Prioritising better sleeping patterns, though challenging due to stress and obligations, including work and family, is crucial. It is recommended for adults to aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.

Reduce Stress Levels

- Chronic stress poses a direct risk to your heart health. It triggers adverse bodily responses such as elevated blood pressure, irregular heart rate, and reduced blood flow to the heart. Additionally, it often leads to unhealthy behaviours that further contribute to heart disease.
- These behaviours include a culmination of what was mentioned above, including weight gain, disrupted sleep, increased alcohol consumption, smoking, an unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity. Dedicate at least 10 minutes daily to stress relief as a proactive step in safeguarding your heart's well-being.
​​(Pritzker, 2022)​.

In conclusion, embracing a healthy lifestyle is your proactive path to safeguarding overall well-being. By prioritising a nutritious diet, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, monitoring blood pressure, taking your medications as prescribed, quitting smoking, improving sleep, and reducing stress, you are taking charge of your heart health. These simple yet impactful habits can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attacks, allowing you to lead a healthier and happier life.  

This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance. 

References

Capritto, A. (2023, February 5). Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease With These 9 Tips. Retrieved from CNET:
https://www.cnet.com/health/lower-your-risk-of-heart-disease-with-these-9-tips/
 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, March 21). Prevent Heart Disease. Retrieved from CDC:
https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/prevention.htm
 

Cultivating Health. (2023, April 5). 7 steps you can take to help prevent heart disease. Retrieved from Cultivating Health:
https://health.ucdavis.edu/blog/cultivating-health/7-steps-you-can-take-to-help-prevent-heart-disease/2023/04
 

Pritzker, S. (2022, March 1). 10 Diet and Lifestyle Changes to Boost Heart Health. Retrieved from Verywell Fit:
https://www.verywellfit.com/10-diet-and-lifestyle-changes-to-boost-heart-health-5219763
 

Yeh, J. (2019, November 4). Lifestyle changes to lower heart disease risk. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publishing:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/lifestyle-changes-to-lower-heart-disease-risk-2019110218125 

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