The path to a healthier heart begins with you. Follow these simple lifestyle tips to give your heart a little extra love.
Choose Heart-Healthy Habits
- Cut back on the junk food.
- Try to avoid fried foods, foods high in sodium or sodas and other sugary drinks.
- Exercise moderation when consuming alcohol.
- An occasional glass of wine can be alright, but drinking excessively can contribute to heart disease.
- Follow a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.
- The Mediterranean diet is a great meal plan for a healthy heart. It is linked to stronger bones, cardiovascular health, a lower risk of dementia and breast cancer, a longer life and a reduced risk for diabetes and high blood pressure.
Do Cardio Exercise
Cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, increases your heart rate, makes your blood pump faster and delivers more oxygen throughout your body. In addition to aiding in weight loss, cardio workouts keep your lungs and heart healthy.
You don’t have to be a full-time athlete to be active. Increasing cardiovascular activity can be as simple as taking a 10-minute walk every day. Find what workouts are right for you and your fitness level. In general, you should do some type of moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 30 minutes, five times a week. Some ways to exercise are brisk walking, jogging and fitness classes. You can even workout at home.
Just make sure you consult your physician before starting any new exercise routines.
Drop Bad Habits
First and foremost, if you smoke it is important to work toward stopping this unhealthy habit. If you don’t smoke, you should avoid it as much as possible due to the dangers of secondhand smoke. Firsthand smoke, secondhand smoke and vaping cause damage to arteries and increase your risk for stroke. The Ochsner Smoking Cessation Clinic can help you kick the habit.
Visit Your Doctor
The risk of heart disease increases with age, but younger people can be affected too. You can start getting screened for heart disease as early as 30-40 years old. According to the American Heart Association, how you live now affects your risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life. As early as childhood and adolescence, plaque can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries. 1 in 3 Americans have cardiovascular disease, but not all of them are senior citizens. Young and middle-aged people can develop heart problems as well. Especially since obesity, type 2 diabetes and other risk factors for heart disease are becoming more common at a younger age.
You can talk to your doctor about starting screening early, especially if you have a family history of heart disease or if you have increased risk factors. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation about your heart health as early detection can be essential to identifying and fixing a problem before it even starts. Often the first recognizable symptom of a heart problem is heart failure or a heart attack, which is why it’s so important to get your health numbers checked regularly. Your numbers include blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index.