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Be Heart Healthy

Lower your risk for heart disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States. Every year one in four deaths are caused by heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of all adults have some type of heart disease. Yet, about 80 percent of all heart disease can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and controlling high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Eat Heart Healthy

Diet plays a major role in heart health and can impact your risk for heart disease. A heart-healthy diet is one that helps you keep off excess weight, lowers cholesterol, and controls blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Instead of fried, processed foods, packaged meals, and sugary snacks, eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and lean meats like chicken and fish. Watching your salt intake, which can increase blood pressure, is important, too. Try using herbs and spices instead of salt and look for added salt in processed foods and snacks. Limiting saturated fats from sources like red and processed meats, butter, and shortening can also help protect heart health. As well, how much you eat is just as important as what you eat so try to limit portion sizes.

Move Your Body More

The heart needs exercise like any other muscle. Moving your body and exercising strengthens your heart. Plus, physical activity helps keep your blood pressure normal and lowers LDL “bad” cholesterol that can block arteries. Exercising for 30 minutes or more on most days can help you lose weight, improve your cholesterol, and lower your blood pressure—all of which are good for heart health. No matter what you do some kind of physical activity is better than none.

Live Tobacco Free

Cigarette smoking can cause heart disease. Roughly one in five deaths from heart disease is directly related to smoking. The nicotine in cigarette smoke reduces how much oxygen your heart gets, speeds up your heart rate, and raises your blood pressure. Plus, secondhand smoke can cause heart disease in people who don’t smoke.

Get Enough Sleep

Catching enough ZZZs isn’t just important to keep up your energy level—it’s good for your heart health, too. Normal sleep helps lower your blood pressure. This is especially important if you have high blood pressure, which can strain and damage the heart and lead to a heart attack. For people with diabetes, getting enough sleep can help improve blood sugar control and lessen damage done to blood vessels and nerves that control the heart. Lack of sleep can also lead to unhealthy weight gain that can increase your chances of developing heart disease.

 

Heart-Healthy Tips

  • Reduce your salt intake
  • Watch your blood pressure
  • Limit saturated fats and processed foods
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Move more and sit less
  • Get 30 minutes of physical activity four to five times a week
  • Stop smoking or avoid secondhand smoke
  • Try to get about seven hours of sleep a night

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