5 Lifestyle Changes That Can Save Your Heart

  • General Health
  • general health - Heart Health
  • April 19, 2024

Heart health is a growing concern, with rising cases of cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle changes can improve heart health and prevent serious conditions.

A Heart To Heart About Your Heart

C ardiovascular disease (CVD) and other heart-related illnesses are at an all-time high. Statistics show CVD is the leading cause of death in the US. More Americans are at risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD), hypertension, and many other heart-related conditions. Furthermore, over 800,000 adults suffer heart attacks yearly, with many unaware that a heart attack has occurred. Whether or not an individual has CVD, maintaining good heart health is no longer an option but a priority.


What’s behind this disheartening trend?

Multiple factors can influence heart health. Aging and genetics are the biggest influences on future heart function. Like any organ or part of the body, the heart is impacted by wear and tear over time. Genetics also plays a role, as people with a family history of heart-related conditions are at risk of developing similar issues. Add in external factors, like weight, diet choices, activity levels, and environmental factors, and the risk increases significantly. Despite the dangers, these 5 game-changing lifestyle adjustments can do wonders for long-term heart health.

1. At least 30 minutes of HIIT

Most doctors, physical therapists, and fitness gurus will encourage weekly aerobic exercise for cardiovascular health. This is sound advice, with something as simple as daily walking considered a fantastic option for the heart. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can take heart health to new heights. HIIT combines aerobic and resistance training at intense bursts, followed by short rest periods. This routine strengthens the heart and increases maximum oxygen consumption over time. At least 1-2 sessions of HIIT per week can contribute to heart health. However, this routine should be guided by age, fitness levels, pre-existing conditions, and medical advice.

2. Ditch the cigarettes

Smoking has numerous detrimental effects on the body. While smoking rates have declined to an all-time low, millions of Americans still smoke, exposing the many risks that come with the activity. Smoking damages and narrows blood vessels over time due to inflammation. There’s also an increased formation of plaque, the sticky substance that forms in arteries, effectively weakening the heart. Over time, the risk of CAD, strokes, and heart disease increases significantly. Smoking cessation is a great way to save the heart from long-term damage. While easier said than done, start with reducing the frequency of smoking, then get professional support to quit completely.

3. Eat a heart-healthy diet

Diet may be the single most significant indicator of declining heart health. The standard American diet is high in processed foods, sugar, and saturated fat while low in fiber. These foods are more likely to increase cholesterol, raise insulin levels, and inflammation. A poor diet can also increase the risk of obesity, a leading cause of heart-related illnesses. Making small dietary changes over time can improve heart health. Add high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Increasing the daily intake of fruits and vegetables while decreasing processed foods can help with long-term cardiovascular function.

4. Face, address, and manage chronic stress

With the many challenges facing adults today comes high degrees of stress. While stress is helpful in small amounts, a constant state of stress increases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones lead to increased inflammation while straining the heart and blood vessels. Stress also has psychological side effects, leading to poor behaviors like smoking, alcohol use, reduced sleep, and poor diets. Managing stress can be life-saving for the heart. Consider talk therapy to address underlying reasons for stress. Meditation, journaling, exercise, and yoga are other fantastic relaxation techniques.

5. Get an annual wellness visit

What makes heart health so risky is that many individuals are unaware that a heart-related condition exists. About 1 in 5 heart attacks are silent, with the person unaware the heart attack has happened. An annual wellness visit can identify underlying issues, allowing doctors to formulate a treatment plan. This health check can also bring awareness of a potential heart threat, leading to effective changes.

Be your heart’s hero

Cardiovascular health should be a priority, especially with age. Start taking steps to improve heart health as soon as possible. Positive changes in diet, exercise, managing stress, and medical checks can be instrumental in reducing or preventing future issues. If there is an underlying heart condition, treatment and lifestyle changes can save the heart from future damage.

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