Healthy Living

5 Ways to Reduce Your Risk for Heart Disease

Heart health is not about losing weight, but about gaining your life back. An estimated 801,000 Americans died of heart disease in 2017—making heart disease the leading cause of death in the United States.

While these numbers seem overwhelming, we can combat these statistics with a little knowledge and lifestyle adjustment.

According to the American Heart Association, “While many may assume that popping a few pills that your healthcare provider prescribed is enough to quell symptoms or prevent a heart attack, the real preventative power lies with real changes to your lifestyle—which can reduce the risk for heart disease by as much as 80 percent.”

So what specific actions can you take to help reduce your risk and keep your heart healthy? Start today with these five things.

  1. Increase Your Activity

Performing moderate exercise for 150 minutes (2.5 hours) per week—like walking, biking, or gardening, can increase your life span and quality of life overall. Think of it as investing about 30 minutes of your day into physical activity that can help you not only decrease your weight, but also increase your heart health.

  1. Change Your Diet

By changing to a more heart healthy diet and dropping some excess pounds, you can lower your risk of developing heart disease. Simple changes like adding more fruits and vegetables in your diet, switching out meat twice a week for fish, cutting down your sugar intake, and eating more fiber-rich, whole grain foods will make a big difference.

  1. Lower Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

Even if your weight is on target, you may still have high blood pressure and cholesterol. Reducing sodium in your diet; adding fish, produce, and nuts; and replacing your grains with whole and multi-grains can help reduce your numbers.

  1. Get Good Sleep

It might sound too simple, but millions of Americans don’t get the recommended 6-8 hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep can be tough on your heart! The best way to get a good night’s sleep is to increase your physical activity during the day, limit the amount of caffeine you have, and establish a specific time you go to bed each night.

  1. Quit Smoking

Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease. It can cause the liner walls of your heart to become weaker and can make your heart work harder. If you’ve tried to quit before and failed, try again! Quitting smoking lowers your risk for smoking-related diseases and can add years to your life. You’re worth it.

Kelli Mitchuson, Health Innovation Specialist, YMCA of Middle Tennessee


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