Cardiovascular Wellness: Lifestyle Changes That Safeguard Your Heart

  • Cardiology
  • general health - Heart Health - Lifestyle
  • January 26, 2024

Heart-healthy lifestyle choices such as exercising, decreasing stress, and quitting smoking can promote cardiovascular wellness and keep the heart beating longer.

A Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

In the US, heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women. People with high blood pressure (BP), high blood cholesterol, and smokers have an elevated risk of heart disease. The good news is that specific lifestyle changes can help safeguard the heart and promote cardiovascular wellness. Small changes today can result in a healthy heart for life.


Pumping into overdrive

The heart is a vital organ responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. Heart disease is a term used to describe a range of conditions that can affect the heart. Coronary artery disease (CAD), irregular heartbeat, and heart valve disease are just a few examples of possible problems the heart can experience. Although each condition will present slightly differently, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, fast or slow heartbeat, fatigue, and swelling are common symptoms indicating the heart may be experiencing a problem. People can focus on making healthy cardiovascular-friendly lifestyle choices to combat the risk of heart disease.

Don’t smoke

Most people know cigarette smoking is bad for general health, but the habit can also have an especially brutal effect on the heart. Chemicals in tobacco can damage the heart and blood vessels, while the smoke from cigarettes reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood. Less oxygen means higher blood pressure and heart rate as the heart works overtime to supply oxygen to the body. Although quitting can be difficult, research shows that the risk of heart disease drops to about half that of a smoker after a year of not smoking.

Get moving

Regular physical activity is another essential lifestyle choice to promote cardiovascular wellness. Exercise can help control weight, which decreases the risk of obesity-related health conditions. Slowly work up to the recommended 150 minutes of movement a week.

Eat heart healthy

Cutting out sugar and processed food can be difficult, but the change can make a big difference for heart health. A consistently healthy diet can help protect the heart, improve BP and cholesterol, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Make sure to include lots of fruits and veggies, low-fat dairy, lean meat and fish, whole grains, healthy fats, and beans.

Limit stress

Nowadays, stress feels like part of everyday life. While the occasional bout of tension with an approaching deadline or big decision can be expected, chronic stress should be avoided. Physical activity, relaxation techniques, and therapy are all great ways to deal with stress. Properly managing heightened cortisol is essential to prevent negative coping behaviors such as overeating, drinking alcohol, and smoking.

Regular screenings

Seeing a healthcare provider for regular health screenings is essential, especially as a person ages. Routine blood work and physical examination can help catch health problems early so a plan can be made to correct the problem. For example, a high blood pressure reading at a yearly visit could encourage the provider and patient to discuss reducing stress and eating healthily before using prescription medication.

Support your heart

Although most people don’t think twice about the heart in everyday life, this organ is essential for many processes in the body. Engaging in heart-healthy behaviors, such as working out, decreasing stress, and eating healthy, can help keep the heart in tip-top shape.

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