HOW TO BOOST YOUR HEART HEALTH: THE 5 THINGS YOU SHOULD AND SHOULDN’T DO
Posted: 2/21/2022 10:00 AM by
For the past two years, many people have found themselves more focused on the state of their health than ever before. By now, we’re familiar with what we can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses, but it’s important to remember we can’t ignore the rest of our body. It’s time to get back on track.
Experts say taking just a few small steps can ensure we stay healthy. That includes making your heart health a priority, too. When it comes to improving your heart health, we often hear about the things we should do.
But did you know there are a number of things you shouldn’t do, too?
The 5 Things You Shouldn’t Do to Boost Heart Health:
1. Don’t smoke. And quit, if you do!
We all know smoking can cause cancer, but it’s also bad for your heart health. In fact, it
negatively affects nearly every part of your body. If you currently smoke, make a plan to quit. For free help and support to quit smoking, you can call the National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848) or visit their website.
2. Don’t drink too much.
Did you know it’s recommended for men to limit alcohol to two servings per day and for women to limit alcohol intake to just one serving per day? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, and can contribute to high triglycerides, and produce irregular heartbeats – none of which are good for your heart.
3. Don’t avoid going to the doctor or taking your medicine.
This is a big one. If you’ve been prescribed medicine to take for your heart, be sure you know
how to take it properly and take your medication every day as prescribed by your physician.
Out of refills for your heart medication? Been a while since your last doctor’s appointment? It’s
time to go see your doctor. Immediately.
Whether it’s fear of COVID-19 or even receiving bad news, you may have been avoiding visits
with your doctor for numerous reasons. If you haven’t seen your primary care physician in at
least one year, make it a priority to visit them soon. Your primary care doctor is your ticket to
making sure you are healthy from head-to-toe – and that definitely includes the health of your
4. Don’t believe you’re too young to have a heart attack.
Although it is often considered to be a condition for the older generation, heart disease and
other associated illnesses are on the rise across all age groups. It may be surprising, but 1 in 5 heart attack patients are actually younger than 40 years old. That’s why it’s so important to keep yourself healthy – no matter what your age is.
5. Don’t ignore the signs of a heart attack.
You’ve probably seen the classic signs of a heart attack in movies – a man or woman clutching their chest in pain. But not everyone experiences chest pain, especially women.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, you should be on the look-out for the following heart attack symptoms:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Upper body discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Feeling unusually tired, sometimes for days (especially if you are a woman)
- Nausea (feeling sick to the stomach) and vomiting
- Light-headedness or sudden dizziness
- Any sudden, new symptoms or a change in the pattern of symptoms you already have
If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.
The 5 Things You Should Do To Boost Heart Health
Now that we’ve covered all the “don’ts”, it’s also important to be aware of the many things you
can start doing now to improve your overall heart health, regardless of your age.
1. Do get on track with eating healthy.
Eating a heart-healthy diet may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. You probably know
you need to limit your sugar intake and fried foods, but instead of focusing on the things you
can’t eat, try to focus on adding in as much heart-healthy food as you can.
Try these tips:
- Load up on fruits and vegetables like strawberries or leafy greens at each meal.
- Keep your portions of fat-heavy, starch-loaded items to a minimum.
- Focus on “good fats” – omega-3 fatty acids are great for your heart and can be found in fatty or oily fish like tuna or salmon, as well as in nuts and avocado oil.
2. Do get moving
Exercise is wonderful for your heart, but it doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the gym
every week! Find an exercise that you enjoy and be sure to switch it up if you get bored.
Try these weekly exercise recommendations for adults:
- 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (for example, 30 minutes 5 days a week), or
- 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (for example, 25 minutes 3 days a week), or
- A combination of both moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity activity
3. Do learn how to fight stress
It’s not possible to avoid stress, because we know it’s just a normal part of life. But, you do need
to have tools to fight the effects it has on your heart.
Just 10-15 minutes a day of the following activities can help lift your mood, improve your
health, and reduce stress:
- Play with your kids, grandkids, or pets – outdoors, if possible
- Take a walk in nature – or just your neighborhood
- Learn more about how to practice meditation
- Read a book, short story, or magazine
- Meet a friend for coffee or a meal
4. Do improve your sleep quality
According to the AHA, studies show short sleep duration or poor sleep quality is associated with
high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. Additionally, habitual short sleep increases the
chance of cardiovascular events.
If you are having trouble sleeping, be sure to mention it to your doctor.
5. Do become aware of the risks you can control
Although we can’t control all the risk factors associated with heart disease (age, gender, and
heredity), we do need to focus on the ones we can control, including:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
Even if you implement just one or two of these tips in your daily life, you may be able to greatly
improve your heart health overall which can greatly impact your overall quality of life and
decrease your risk for heart disease.