Heart disease is the nation’s biggest killer. You may think heart attacks and strokes only affect older people who haven’t looked after their bodies. But you’d be wrong. Heart disease is increasingly prevalent among younger people. It’s never too early to start prioritizing heart health. Here are some tips to help you reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
Exercise is your best friend when it comes to boosting heart health. Working out boosts circulation and helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol in the long-term. When you exercise, you also build up strength in your muscles, including your cardiac muscle tissue. Ideally, you should try and engage in moderate exercise for half an hour five times per week. This can include anything that increases your heart rate significantly. Take a yoga class or join a spinning class. Go for a jog around the park, or take your dog for a long walk. Hit the gym and lift some weights or go for a swim. Learn to dance or join a local tennis club.
If you’re not used to exercise, you may find it tough to begin with, but don’t give up. You’ll get fitter and stronger with every session.
Your diet plays an incredibly important role when it comes to heart health. A diet high in saturated fats and sugars can contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol–all risk factors for heart disease. Pay attention to your intake of fats, especially trans fats and saturated fats. Limit your consumption of refined sugar and iodized salt. Aim for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, opt for whole grain foods, and ideally, switch to a whole food plant-based diet.
Book regular check ups and look out for warning signs
The signs of high blood pressure and raised cholesterol can be tough to spot. It’s a good idea to keep tabs on your heart by getting routine check ups. If you do have high blood pressure, for example, there are changes you can make to try and bring it down–like moving to a whole food plant based diet. Alternatively, you may be advised by your doctor to start taking medication. If you have serious issues, you may be referred to a specialist, such as an interventional cardiologist. The sooner potential warning signs are spotted, the better. Sometimes, there are no obvious signs of cardiac problems. But you should seek advice if you’re getting breathless or your heartbeat becomes irregular. It’s also important to see your doctor if you have chest pain.
Make positive lifestyle choices
Smoking and drinking alcohol excessively are risk factors for heart disease. If you want to give up smoking or drinking, ask your doctor for advice. Quitting isn’t easy. But it has incredible benefits for your health.