Heart Health

Your heart has a big job to do — and a healthy heart plays a huge role in your overall health. The heart pumps blood through your vessels to all your vital organs, including your brain, so chronic heart or blood vessel disease can lead to not only stroke and heart attack, but depression and decreased brain function. There are several habits that everyone should follow for better heart health, and one of the most important is a diet for a healthy heart. A heart-healthy diet means sticking to foods low in unhealthy fats, specifically saturated and trans fats. Just as important, it also means eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats such as fatty fish, nuts, and avocados, which can help promote weight management and prevent heart disease

If you want a healthy heart, you have to work at keeping fit — unfortunately most of us don’t. A study conducted by the CDC found that more than 68 percent of adults are overweight, while another 35 percent are obese. Weight management is one of the major keys to help prevent heart disease. You can watch your weight by eating a healthy diet in addition to getting plenty of exercise. Exercise is one of the best ways to build a strong heart and promote weight management. Aerobic exercise, which gets your heart rate up, is best, but strength training can help your heart, too. The more exercise you get, the better, but even just an hour of exercise per week can help prevent heart disease. If you really want heart-health benefits, a brisk, 30 minute walk most days of the week is excellent exercise.

A number of health problems are linked to heart disease and can stand in the way of a healthy heart. Diabetes management is vital for heart health, more patients with diabetes die from heart disease rather than the diabetes itself. Other conditions that threaten heart health are high blood pressure and high cholesterol — you’ll need to work closely with your doctor to prevent heart disease by bringing these conditions under control through diet, exercise, weight management, and medications, if necessary. You’ll feel better and improve your heart health to boot.

Smoking causes health threats that go beyond serious damage to your lungs. It can also damage your arteries and threaten your heart. One study found that even in young people, smoking was associated with significant heart problems. If you smoke but want to commit to having a healthy heart, recognize that you may need help beating your addiction. To take charge of your heart health and overall health, explain to your doctor that you want to quit and ask for recommendations on smoking cessation programs. Worried about weight management? Add exercise to your post-smoker lifestyle to stay busy and fit.

When your stress levels go up, so does your risk of heart disease. For a strong heart, find effective and healthy ways to alleviate stress. Regular exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Learning relaxation techniques, a good laugh, and venting can all help relieve stress and promote a healthy heart.

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