According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 790,000 Americans have a heart attack every year – that’s about one heart attack every 40 seconds! In the month of February when Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world, it’s also American Heart Month. Let’s look at 5 ways to love your heart.
- Develop healthy eating habits: A heart-healthy diet will contain plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, and white meat (poultry and fish) cooked without too much oil or salt. Try to avoid processed foods and sugary beverages. Be moderate with alcohol, no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
- Perform cardiovascular exercise: This includes brisk walking, jogging, swimming, biking, or any physical activity that gets the heart pumping faster than normal. Start slowly with activities such as walking for 20 minutes every day. As fitness improves, the intensity and duration of workouts can be increased for better cardiovascular benefit.
- Manage stress effectively: Stress is an unavoidable part of today’s fast-paced world and it can have a negative effect on the heart. However, effective stress management techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, and developing a different outlook on life (such as not always demanding perfection of yourself and others) can reduce likelihood of developing heart disease.
- Quit smoking: Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the US. Smoking can reduce exercise tolerance, increase tendency of blood to clot, decrease the level of good cholesterol, and increase risk of heart disease. Quitting smoking is a big part of demonstrating love for your heart.
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight: People who tend to carry lot of fat around the waist are at a higher risk of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and heart disease. A person of weight may be able to reduce the risk of heart disease by maintaining a healthy body mass index. Studies have shown that advanced weight-loss surgeries such as Gastric Sleeve can help produce significant weight loss and are more effective in achieving long-term weight loss than diet and exercise alone.