Your heart is an amazing organ. It beats 100,000 times a day. It pumps 1.5 gallons of blood every minute through 60,000 miles of blood vessels.
This organ does a lot for us throughout our lives – it deserves to be cared for with kindness. That means doing whatever you can in your day-to-day to keep it strong and healthy. After all, it works hard for us. Shouldn’t we work hard for it?
Almost half of all Americans have at least one major heart disease risk factor, which include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Certain health conditions, behaviors, and family history can also increase heart disease risk, but there are many things you can do to lower that risk.
Take Care of Your Heart Every Day
Let’s talk about some of the ways you can care for your heart to keep it strong for years to come:
- Stay active. We know you’ve heard this one before. But exercise is the single most important key to heart health, according to Cleveland Clinic. Adults should strive for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. If health conditions prevent you from completing moderate exercise, strive for any level of physical activity you can manage.
- Eliminate stress and find joy. It’s true – stress can affect your heart. Not only can stress increase your blood pressure, which is a direct risk factor for heart disease, but happiness and a strong sense of emotional vitality help lower risk of heart disease. Make a daily effort to think positive thoughts and focus on things that bring you joy – it’s good for your heart.
- Aim for heart-healthy grocery shopping. When shopping for snacks and meals to cook at home, buy colorful fruits and green leafy vegetables, plenty of nuts, and high fiber foods. Avoid foods like high-fat dairy, high-fat meat, butter, or highly processed foods. Your diet plays a huge role in your cholesterol levels – another direct risk factor for heart disease.
- Keep up with your doctor and dentist appointments Especially as you age, regular check-ups with your primary care physician, specialists, and dentist are crucial. Your doctor can work with you on lifestyle changes to lower your risk of heart disease. And while poor oral health isn’t a direct cause of heart disease, studies have shown some connections between the two.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption. Drinking too much alcohol raises blood pressure. While it’s tempting to have two or three glasses of beer or wine, try to stick to one. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends women have no more than one glass of alcohol per day, and men have no more than two.
- Quit smoking immediately. No matter your age or how long you’ve been smoking, your body benefits immediately when you quit. Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease as well as many other health problems. Don’t think you can do it? If you need help quitting tobacco, there are many resources and programs available to you, like smoking cessation programs.
Your heart deserves love and attention year-round – not just in February. But now is the perfect time to make small adjustments to your lifestyle for the benefit of your heart. It’s never too late to start.