February is American Heart Month, so it’s the perfect time to start your journey towards a heart-healthy lifestyle. Right now, heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, but we hope to end that statistic one day. To help celebrate American Heart Month, here are the top 5 heart-healthy tips you can follow to help prevent heart disease.
1. Get Screened for Hypertension
Did you know that almost 1 in 2 adults suffer from high blood pressure, but only about 1 in 4 have it under control? High blood pressure often has no or few noticeable symptoms, which is why it’s essential to be proactive in checking your blood pressure.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Hypertension can also increase the risk of:
- Heart failure
- Kidney disease
- Complications during pregnancy
- Cognitive decline
If you have high blood pressure or want to prevent it, you can try the following tips:
Reduce Your Sodium Intake
Sodium causes your blood pressure to rise, which can damage the lining of your arteries. Unfortunately, most Americans consume too much sodium from processed foods. To reduce your risk for heart disease and hypertension, be mindful of how much salt you add to your meals. It is recommended that Americans consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.
Lower Caffeine Consumption
While caffeine may not necessarily raise blood pressure in everyone, it can increase hypertension in those sensitive to caffeine or those who do not typically consume caffeine. When drinking coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages, do so in moderation and drink plenty of water. According to research, 400 mg of caffeine per day appears to be safe for most healthy adults.
It’s easy to let exercise fall by the wayside when you get busy. Try setting aside 30 minutes per day for physical activity. Even low-impact activities, such as walking the dog or doing housework, can help boost your heart health and lower your risk of heart disease and hypertension.
2. Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet
Your diet has a significant impact on your heart health. Ensure you’re eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day. Be sure to control your portion sizes and avoid foods high in saturated and trans fats, sugar, salt, and sodium.
Foods safe that are generally good for your heart include:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Whole grains
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are healthy fats that can help lower your risk of heart disease. In addition, these fats lower bad cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol levels.
Watch What You Drink
When considering a healthy diet, it can be easy to forget about the things you drink. Try to avoid drinks with excess sugar or carbs, such as soda and fruit juice, which may increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
3. Quit Smoking
If you are a smoker, now is the time to start taking steps towards quitting. Smoking is an addiction that can be hard to kick, but it’s never too late to stop. If you don’t smoke, work to avoid second-hand smoke and make sure your family and friends understand how devastating smoking can be to your heart health. If you smoke, there are many resources available to help you finally quit.
4. Manage Daily Stress
Stress has lasting effects on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart attack and high blood pressure. Be mindful of the stress in your life and do your best to stay calm. If you feel stress building, take a moment to breathe deeply or go for a walk around the block. Yoga and meditation also have been scientifically proven to reduce stress.
Even if you don’t feel like your schedule is hectic, try setting aside time to decompress every day. Picking up a new hobby or taking time for yourself to relax are good strategies for staying stress-free at home.
5. Prioritize Rest
Sleep is a vital component of your health, and it’s especially important for heart health. When you lose sleep, your risk for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease rises. Try turning off the TV and other digital screens an hour before bedtime. Calming your body and mind by reading a good book or practicing relaxation exercises before bed can help you get a good night of sleep. Getting at least seven hours of quality sleep every night gives your body time to recover from the stressors of everyday life.
You Can Get Better Faster With a Healthy Heart
Having a healthy heart isn’t the only thing that can help you live a healthy, active life. NJ Spine and Wellness is a multidisciplinary practice devoted to providing patients with a long-term solution to managing orthopedic pain. Our goal is to help our patients get better faster, and we can do that a lot easier if you have a healthy cardiovascular system.
Our staff of highly trained professionals includes specialists in orthopedic surgery, sports medicine, pain management, chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, and occupational therapy. Contact NJ Spine and Wellness today and be on your way to pain-free living.