Are You At Risk of Heart Disease?

Keep your heart as healthy as possible by taking the following steps.

February 6, 2022

February is American Heart Month. This year, the focus is on how taking care of your heart is an important part of self-care. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 deaths in the United States is due to heart disease, making it the leading cause of death for both men and women.

7 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

1. Get regular health screenings. Whether or not you have a family history of heart disease, it’s worth making your heart health a priority. This includes regular blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar screenings, among other things. Has it been a while since your last check-up? Go ahead and schedule one, even if you feel completely healthy.

2. Quit smoking, and if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage your heart and blood vessels, causing atherosclerosis, which increases your risk of heart disease. There is some evidence that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect your heart from the risks of coronary artery disease (the most common type of heart disease), but drinking large amounts of alcohol over time or drinking too much at once can put your heart at risk.

3. Eat right. Stick to heart-healthy foods. Some foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help protect your heart. Avoid foods with lots of salt, sugar, saturated fat, and trans fat. To find the right food plan for your body and activity level, see a nutritionist.

4. Move your body. If you are overweight, you may be more at risk of heart disease. The heart is a muscle, and exercise helps to keep it healthy. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of the two—but shorter amounts are still helpful. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy, and stick with it. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new fitness program.

5. Relax. Stress and mental health struggles can affect your heart health, so make time for activities that lower your stress level. This might include meditating, taking walks, or focusing on a hobby that you enjoy.

6. Get plenty of sleep. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Adults who regularly sleep less than that are more likely to experience health problems, and insomnia is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease.

7. Spend time with friends. Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are associated with a 29% increased risk of heart attack. Connecting with loved ones and forging new friendships could help you—and everyone you spend time with—stay healthier.

For personal guidance on how to keep your heart healthy, reach out to an expert health advisor. Talk with them about your current health and your family’s health history, and take action to protect your heart.

Want to help protect the heart of someone you love? Share this information with them.

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