5 Ways to Keep Heart Healthy
- Enjoy heart-healthy nutrition
Proper nutrition combats 4 of the big 5 risk factors for heart disease — obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure (we’ll look at smoking later). Emphasizing vegetables and fiber – think raspberries, broccoli, green peas, lentils, and black beans — as well as reducing or eliminating sugar-rich beverages such as soft drinks and sweetened coffee or tea, can go a low way toward risk reduction! Remember to keep alcohol consumption modest as well.
- Avoid tobacco
Nicotine and other chemicals work together to promote coronary atherosclerosis – plaque-induced narrowing of the arteries feeding heart muscle, increased blood pressure, and an overworked heart.
Secondhand smoke, chewing tobacco, and low-tar/low-nicotine cigarettes are increase heart disease risk as well.
- Exercise regularly
At least 30 to 60 minutes of daily medium-intensity exercise is best. Don’t get discouraged if you miss a day, though, just get right back to activity as soon as possible! Take advantage of professional instruction to get you going, and make sure to develop aerobic, strength, and flexibility conditioning. Be creative and have fun!
- Maintain good dental hygiene
Visit your dentist regularly, and maintain the proper, daily brushing and flossing routine. Periodontal (gum) disease is frequently associated with heart and other cardiovascular disease.
- Get enough restorative sleep
Emerging research points to blood pressure and inflammatory changes, amongst other biological disruptions, as links between too little sleep and heart disease. Sleep apnea should always be treated as its progression may be accompanied by heart disease, arrhythmias, and other pathologic processes.
CHLI encourages everyone to discuss these and many other heart risk reduction strategies with your physician, and together determine the best path forward for your heart healthy lifestyle!
References: American Heart Association https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living ; American College of Cardiology https://www.cardiosmart.org/Healthy-Living/Eat-Better ; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/prevention.htm ; Harvard Medical School https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/gum-disease-and-heart-disease-the-common-thread