With every beat, the heart pumps blood around your body so that oxygen and nutrients are distributed throughout your system. You need to keep your heart healthy, so it will continue to efficiently pump blood and maintain bodily functions.
When the heart doesn’t get the care it needs, the lining of the arteries will develop problems resulting in plaque formation that blocks blood flow. This is how a heart attack happens.
Take a look at these other staggering figures from the CDC:
- One person dies every 34 seconds from cardiovascular disease in the U.S.
- In 2020, one in every five deaths was attributed to heart disease
- 1 million adults (7.2%) have coronary artery disease (CAD)
- Two in 10 deaths were people below 65 years old
To prevent possible heart problems, here are five simple steps to a healthier heart:
1. Eat Heart-Healthy Foods
Keeping the heart healthy is not difficult. Eating a heart-healthy diet will do wonders for its wellness for years to come.
According to health experts, the proportion of the nutrients you consume is just as important as the types of food you eat.
- Limit portion sizes
- Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet
- Choose whole grains, which are vital sources of fiber and nutrients
- Reduce intake of trans fat
- Eat low-fat protein sources
- Minimize salt
Going on a heart-healthy diet doesn’t mean you should never eat unhealthy food products like burgers and fries ever again. You just need to minimize the intake of junk and fatty food because they contain bad cholesterol that could clog up your arteries.
2. Be More Active
Many people are allergic to the word exercise, so let’s just say you need to “stay active.” Physical activity is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy heart.
Regular trips to the gym are ideal because you can work with an experienced trainer. They can create a program for you, which may include weight loss and body toning workouts to keep your heart healthy.
However, the gym is not the only way to be more active. Even simple walks around your neighborhood or taking the stairs at work will do wonders for your health. Bike rides to the park and playing fetch with your dog are great activities, too. Regular movement will do wonders for your health, especially your heart and lungs.
If you are working remotely, take a break in the middle of the day and walk or jog to the nearest park. Regular doses of fresh air will also have a positive impact on your health and your brain.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Experts recommend at least seven hours of sleep for adults. However, many people have trouble getting enough sleep.
According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation increases a person’s risk of a heart attack. Studies have shown that those who get less than six hours of sleep have a 20% higher chance of heart attack.
Sleeping involves a cycle of NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, which slows down the heart and allows recovery from a day’s work, and REM sleep, which involves heightened activity. When a person sleeps less than the recommended time, the balance of NREM and REM is skewed, increasing the risk of a heart attack.
Incidentally, two of the best natural remedies for sleeping better are a healthy diet and exercise. If those don’t work, consult your primary physician or a sleep doctor for possible remedies.
4. Avoid Smoking and Second-Hand Smoke
Cigarette smoke increases the risk of heart disease, whether you are the one smoking or constantly exposed to second-hand smoke. The CDC stated that those exposed to second-hand smoke have a 25% to 30% higher risk of developing coronary heart disease.
Secondhand smoke interferes with the normal function of the heart, blood, and vascular systems, hence, the increased risk of a heart attack. Even brief exposure can cause platelets to become thicker, which could lead to a blood clot or damage the linings of the blood vessels.
5. Take Healthy Heart Supplements
Dietary supplements contain nutrients that a regular diet cannot provide. For example, we have a collection of heart-healthy supplements to complement a healthy diet and improve cardiovascular health.
Some healthy heart supplements to include in your daily regimen are:
For years omega-3s have been recommended by the American Heart Association to help improve heart health and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can decrease the risk for arrhythmias, decrease triglyceride levels, slightly lower blood pressure, and slow the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
While it is better known for its role in developing strong bones, it also has a hand in keeping the heart healthy. Some studies have shown that those at risk of heart attack have low blood levels of vitamin D.
Folate, also known as vitamin B9 or folic acid, is found in various foods. Studies have shown that folic acid therapy significantly decreases the risk of stroke in cardiovascular patients.
Magnesium is a mineral that keeps the heart rhythm stable. Many studies have shown that magnesium supplements lower high blood pressure, which is among the risk factors for heart disease.
Potassium is an electrolyte that helps regulate the heartbeat – it helps keep pace by controlling the electrical signals sent to the myocardium. Too much or too little potassium can cause irregular beats. Potassium also offsets sodium and can help blood vessels relax, prevent the build-up of calcium in the arteries, and reduce blood pressure.
Mushrooms are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are also linked with better heart health—positive studies have shown that mushroom consumption leads to favorable lipid profiles and the reduction of blood pressure.
The Bottom Line
A healthy lifestyle is the key to a healthy heart. It’s not even that difficult – you just need a more heart-healthy diet, to stay active, get enough sleep, avoid smoking and smokers, and take heart-healthy supplements.