Are You Stressing Out Your Heart?

Try these tips for leading a heart-healthy life

Whether you are young or old, short or tall, male or female…your heart health is vital! Does your lifestyle support good heart health? Or are you doing things that may contribute to heart disease? Read these guidelines, and see what you can do to give your heart some TLC. These tips are compiled from the Centers for Disease Control and the American Heart Association.

#1. Get a checkup every year
Preventative medicine is the best kind of medicine. Having an annual physical by your primary care physician can go a long way toward preventing and/or treating heart problems. Your doctor will order blood work to screen for high cholesterol and high blood pressure. You can also ask your doctor to assess your risk of heart disease and possibly suggest extra tests to measure your heart health.

#2. Know the warnings signs of a heart attack
It’s important to know the warning signs of a heart attack. Memorizing these signs can help save a life. If you know the signs, you can know when to call 9-1-1, whether it’s for yourself, a friend, a loved one, or even a stranger who is experiencing these signs. If you or a loved one is having these symptoms, don’t wait. Call 9-1-1.

#3. Stay in shape
Your heart is a muscle that needs exercise just like any other muscle. Regular aerobic exercise is the way to strengthen your heart. The American Heart Association recommends 3 to 5 hours per week of moderate-intensity exercise. This can be broken into smaller segments and spread out over the week. If you’re not fit now, be sure to talk to your doctor about a safe way to begin an exercise program. Not sure what kind of exercise you like? Why not try one of these fun exercise trends?

#4. Reduce stress
Stress is a hidden heart risk factor that may surprise you. Even if you eat healthfully, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and drinking, you may still be harming your heart if you suffer from too much stress. It’s important to evaluate your lifestyle every now and then to consider your levels of stress. If you find stress has crept into your life, try stress management techniques to minimize this risk factor.

#5. Avoid smoking
Most smokers are aware that smoking is bad for them. What you might not know is that there are many resources available to help you quit. The American Lung Association has a whole website devoted to quitting smoking. If you’re a smoker, do yourself a favor, and try out the Lung Association’s advice.

#6. Be moderate with alcohol
Drinking alcohol raises your blood pressure, so it’s a good idea to keep your alcohol consumption down. Most health websites suggest that men should drink no more than 2 drinks per day, and that women should drink no more than 1 drink per day. If you are drinking more than this on a regular basis, talk to your doctor about a healthy way to cut back.

#7. Keep a heart-healthy-diet
What foods are healthy for your heart? Try to choose foods that are high in fiber and low in saturated fats. This means lots of vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish, and white meats. Try the American Heart Association’s Healthy Eating website for some great advice.

#8. Stay at a healthy weight
Carrying extra weight can put extra strain on your heart. To find a healthy weight for your body frame, you can use a free body mass index calculator. If you are overweight, be sure to talk with your doctor about a safe and healthy way to begin losing weight.

#9. If prescribed medicines, take them correctly
If you are prescribed medications for high blood pressure or high cholesterol, be sure you follow your doctor’s instructions and take them properly. You can ask your doctor about lifestyle changes that could help you go off the medicine, but don’t go off the meds without your doctor’s consent.

We hope this post has been helpful in understanding the steps you can take to be kind to your heart. A heart-healthy lifestyle can contribute to your overall quality of life. It’s well worth the effort!