Heart disease, stroke, or other heart-related diseases cause one-third of all deaths in America – that’s nearly 860,00 premature deaths and $213.8 billion in healthcare costs every year.
The risk of having a heart attack or stroke is linked to a number of conditions, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and smoking addiction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has partnered with different programs that work to combat high blood pressure and other risk factors, and it’s proven effective in lowering mortality rates caused by heart disease and stroke.
If you want to reduce or minimize your chances of suffering a heart attack, making certain lifestyle changes is the first step in the journey:
Be more active than you’ve ever been
Being physically active is not just good for you; it can save your life.
Exercise can lower your risk of heart attack by up to 50%. It doesn’t have to be strenuous – 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week is an ideal starting point. You can also do a 20-minute walk in the morning, on your way to work if possible, and another one before lunch.
Don’t limit yourself to the gym. An ideal form of exercise can be anything from a nice stroll around the neighborhood to a weekend hike in Maine to an all-inclusive Alaskan fishing trip.
Control your BMI
Your weight affects your heart health. Most, if not all, people who die of heart attack range from overweight to obese. Health experts say this is because increased body fat can cause the heart’s atria and ventricles to enlarge, which directly increases the risk of heart disease.
If you’re somewhere within the overweight-to-obese range, you don’t necessarily have to aim for a full-body transformation. A weight reduction of 5% to 10% can make a lot of difference in lowering your risks, as it improves cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels.
Eating the wrong kinds of food is one way to develop cardiovascular disease. If you’re serious about being heart-healthy, make an effort to eat healthier than ever before. Filling your plate with a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fish can reduce your risk of heart disease by 25%.
Here’s a list of heart-friendly foods:
- Leafy vegetables
- Fatty fish and fish oil
- Whole grains
Cut down alcohol intake
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol can actually be good for your heart if consumed in moderation. But do be mindful about your alcohol intake, because excessive and habitual drinking can do the exact opposite. If you’re a healthy adult (that is, you don’t have any pre-existing illnesses), you can have 12 oz of beer a day.
Do not smoke
Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors of heart attack, whether you’re a firsthand or passive smoker. There’s no other choice but to give up tobacco entirely.
Consult your dentist regularly
Consulting your dentist twice a year is said to reduce the risk of stroke by 13% and of heart attack by 24%. Your dentist can also spot signs of heart disease, including loose teeth and swollen gums. The earlier it’s detected, the sooner you can make lifestyle changes or seek treatment.
There’s no denying that diet, physical activity, and level of fitness are connected to heart health and function. Adopt these changes into your everyday life and always check in with your doctor. Remember: the best time to start is yesterday. We hope you take these tips to heart.