According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 631,000 people die from heart disease every year. Developing better lifestyle habits can help reduce your risk of a heart attack and lead to a healthier heart.
· Quit Smoking: Smoking damages your heart, lungs, and negatively affects your heart health. Once you stop smoking, your odds of developing heart disease drops rapidly. Breaking that smoking habit is essential for your overall health.
· Healthier Weight: Being overweight and having a high body mass index increases your risk of heart disease. However, a high BMI only takes into account weight in relation to height. It does not take into account how muscular you are. For example, athletes are completely out of shape according to their BMI. A healthy waist circumference: For men, between 37 and 40 is overweight and more than 40 inches are obese; For women, 31.5-34.6 inches is overweight and more than 34.6 is obese.
Exercise: The key to excellent heart health is to keep moving and avoid being sedentary. Any movement is good for your heart, but aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week.
· Keep your blood pressure healthy: Uncontrolled, high blood pressure is a major risk for heart disease. Some of the main causes of high blood pressure, or hypertension, include eating a high sodium diet, high sugar diet, and not exercising.
· Know your blood sugar levels: A strong risk factor for heart disease is diabetes, and elevated blood sugar levels over time can lead to diabetes. Consuming unhealthy carbohydrates from sugar and refined grains causes a rapid rise in blood glucose and insulin compensates for the rise in blood sugar. The increased insulin levels promote fat, especially around the belly, which is a major contributing factor to heart disease.
· Healthy Cholesterol Levels: High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. If you have not had your cholesterol levels checked in the past year or two, get them checked now to find out if you're at risk for heart disease.
· Heart Healthy Diet: Include a variety of whole, fresh, organic foods in your diet. At least one-third of your foods should be raw. Also, be sure to include omega-3 fats in your diet, as they are beneficial for your heart health.
Reduce stress: High stress levels, especially in women, are a high risk factor for heart disease. High stress levels also cause an increase in cortisol levels, which can cause a weight gain around the mid-section if chronically elevated. Try incorporating some relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation.