How to improve your heart health quickly and naturally

Your heart is the pump that delivers oxygen and nutrients to all the tissues in your body. Keeping it in top shape is the key to a healthy life. Following these tips in your daily life can help you keep your ticker ticked.

Tip 1: Reduce your daily sodium intake

Too much sodium makes you retain water, according to a small study 2017. When this happens, your heart has to work harder to move the extra fluid through your body. Choose foods labeled as “no added salt,” try to avoid foods that contain more than 400 milligrams of sodium per serving, and try to stay below 1500 milligrams total per day.

Whenever you can, replace the salt in your cooking with herbs and spices. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet can also be a helpful way to reduce sodium and take care of your heart.

Tip 2: Reduce your saturated fat intake

Saturated fats can lead to atherosclerosis, where hard plaque builds up in your arteries. You can reduce your intake by eating lower-fat cuts of meat, such as roast rib or sirloin tip, and avoiding high-fat dairy products. Generally speaking, if it’s fatty, it’s probably higher in saturated fat.

Tip 3: Choose heart-healthy fats

Unsaturated fats can be good for your heart by reducing inflammation in your body. Inflammation can lead to heart disease. Heart-healthy fats include vegetable oil, low-fat mayonnaise, and oil-based salad dressings.

Following a Mediterranean diet can be a tasty way to get healthier fats into your diet and lower cholesterol.

Tip 4: Increase your dietary fiber intake

Fiber helps you feel full and can help lower cholesterol levels. Moreover, the Department of Health and Social Services says foods high in fiber are generally healthier, including beans, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Tip 5: Eat lots of fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients and are lower in calories to help you maintain a moderate weight and reduce inflammation. The more colorful and fresh your choices, the better.

Tip 6: Eat low-fat dairy products

Low-fat dairy products are excellent alternatives to those high in fat. Examples include skim milk, low-fat yogurt, soy milk, or fat-free cheeses.

Tip 7: Get enough exercise every week

Moderate or vigorous activity – it’s up to you how you like to exercise. American Heart Association (AHA) recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. Combining the two is fine too.

Tip 8: Don’t neglect resistance training

Engaging in activities that help you build strong muscles, such as lifting weights or using resistance bands, can boost your metabolism. This helps you maintain moderate weight and blood pressure.

Tip 9: Spend less time sitting

Standing, walking and moving, in general, can be healthier for your heart than sitting all the time. If possible, use a standing desk or make an effort to take breaks throughout the day. According to AHA, physical inactivity is associated with increased risks of heart disease and premature death. Keep moving!

Tip 10: Don’t smoke

Smoking can have serious effects on your heart health. If you smoke, now is a great time to try to quit. If you need help, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for a 24-hour help line with quit smoking resources.

Tip 11: Avoid second-hand smoke

Exposure to second-hand smoke also puts your heart health at risk. If someone in your house smokes, ask them to smoke outside. Or better yet, encourage them to quit.

Tip 12: Avoid excessive alcohol consumption

Excess alcohol can increase your risk of heart disease. Moderation is the key. the Department of Health and Social Services recommend no more than 2 glasses per day for most adults.

Tip 13: Maintain a moderate weight

When you maintain a moderate weight, you don’t put undue strain on your heart. Talk to your doctor about what a moderate weight is for you given your age, height, and body shape.

Tip 14: Manage your chronic health issues

Seeing a doctor annually (or more often, depending on your condition) can help you take a preventative approach to care. If you have conditions known to affect heart health, such as chronic kidney disease or diabetes, make efforts to manage these conditions to improve your overall health. Getting treatment early and following your treatment plan can dramatically improve your outlook.

Tip 15: Take time to relax every day

Even if it’s just for a few minutes, taking the time to relax can benefit your overall health. If stress is part of your daily life, you are at a increased risk high blood pressure, obesity and heart disease.

Tip 16: Reach out to a friend or loved one

Reaching out to loved ones when you’re feeling stressed can help you get the support you need. Sharing your emotions and anxieties can be difficult, but someone who wants the best for you will offer you a listening ear. Plus, they’ll likely appreciate the chance to figure out how they can better help you.

Tip 17: Create stress management strategies

Realistically, you will probably face stressful events from time to time. Create a strategy for how you can stay calm when doing this. This might include taking a deep breath, repeating a soothing saying, or prioritizing tasks at hand. When you prepare for stressful events, you are better able to cope with them.

When you quit smoking, you are already taking action to improve your heart health.

A 2019 review shows that quitting smoking can lead to weight gain in some people. This can have a negative impact on heart health. But quitting smoking is still critically important.

To reap the benefits of quitting smoking and maintaining a moderate weight, try the following tips:

Tip 18: Use medications to help you quit smoking, such as nicotine patches or varenicline (Chantix). These approaches help keep you from gaining weight while you quit smoking.

Tip 19: Get emotional support from a trusted counselor or friend as you try to quit smoking and get healthier. Have psychological support can help you maintain your weight.

Tip 20: Exercise regularly to help maintain a healthy body and moderate weight. You will likely find that you are able to challenge yourself more physically, as you may cough less after quitting smoking.

Several pregnancy-related disorders, such as preeclampsia and gestational high blood pressure, can increase your risk of heart disease later in life study 2016. Although these conditions are not always preventable, there are ways to improve your heart health.

Tip 21: Attend all of your recommended prenatal appointments. Your doctor may monitor you for potential complications, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Treating them with medication can help maintain your heart health.

Tip 22: Stay active during pregnancy, as long as your doctor tells you it’s safe. Staying active will help you maintain a healthy body during pregnancy and relieve some stress.

Tip 23: Follow a heart-healthy diet, like the DASH diet. A 2021 review associated eating this diet during pregnancy with reduced blood pressure.

Tip 24: Avoid foods high in fat and sugar during pregnancy. These habits increase your risk of premature delivery.

Tip 25: Stop smoking if you smoke. Smoking is one of Most important modifiable risk factors for pregnant women and heart health.

A heart attack can be a wake-up call to engage in more heart-healthy measures. Here are some of the ways you can achieve this:

Tip 26: Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor every day. Talk to your doctor about the side effects you can expect and when to call if you have concerns.

Tip 27: Participate in cardiac rehabilitation. Many hospitals and healthcare facilities offer cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack. This is an approach where you can exercise while wearing a monitor. The monitor helps ensure your heart rate isn’t too high while you exercise.

Tip 28: Make an appointment with your primary healthcare professional for a checkup. During the exam, they can screen you for other medical conditions that could affect your heart health, such as diabetes. Assessing your overall health and taking steps to be healthier can reduce your risk of future heart attacks.

Having a condition that limits your mobility can make traditional exercise approaches more difficult, but not impossible. Here are some low impact exercise tips:

Tip 29: Try “physical exercise”, like a small study 2019 suggests. It’s when you use games or video games that involve movement as a form of exercise. A game that requires movement using controllers, such as bowling or golf on the Nintendo Wii, can be a fun and engaging way to exercise with reduced mobility.

Tip 30: Use a stationary bike machine for arms or legs. Even people with limited mobility can often use these exercise machines to improve heart health.

Researchers are still studying the impacts of COVID-19 on the heart. the AHA says that, just like with the disease itself, some people are more affected than others. Some suffer from inflammation of the heart tissue and doctors fear this could lead to heart failure.

Because the link between COVID-19 and heart health is the subject of emerging research, there are no specific best practices to help people who have heart problems after COVID-19. Until the experts know more, take overall heart-healthy measures, such as healthy eating, exercising, and refraining from smoking, to ideally have a protective effect.

Most heart health efforts focus on your overall well-being. This includes stress reduction, heart-healthy diet, and exercise. If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your doctor about ways to safely improve your heart health.

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