February is American Heart Month, so your concierge medical doctors at MD 2.0 Jupiter, FL, want to remind you that heart disease is America’s number one killer, and as much as 70% of heart disease can be controlled.
You may already know that, and you may have told yourself that one of these days, you’ll get around to doing more to keep your heart healthy, but right now, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. And besides, there’s so much involved in taking care of your heart, so really, why bother?
How about this? Following are 10 ways to take better care of your heart. With Valentine’s Day coming up, why not add yourself to the list of people you want to express your love to, and give yourself a gift: choose just one thing below you can do right now to improve your heart health.
1. Stop smoking. Smoking is one of the strongest risk factors for developing heart disease, because it leads to a narrowing of the arteries, irregular heart rhythm, and an increase in blood pressure. A year after quitting, your risk of a heart attack falls to half that of a smoker’s.
2. Exercise. Any exercise will improve your cardiovascular health, even taking a 10-minute walk. Try to do it several times a week. Remember, something is better than nothing.
3. Lose weight. Dropping just 5-10% of your body weight will vastly improve your cardiovascular health.
4. Sleep seven to eight hours a night. A 2011 study found that those who sleep less than seven hours a night are 48% more likely to develop or die from heart disease.
5. Increase your fiber intake, which will lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol: fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains. Try adding just one extra serving a day.
6. Reduce processed foods. Their saturated and trans fats will take direct aim at your heart by raising bad (LDL) cholesterol and lowering good (HDL) cholesterol. Trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) are the worst type of fat you can eat.
7. Limit sugar and sweets. We’ve heard about fat and salt, but those whose sugar intake comprises more than 25% of their daily diet are more than twice as likely to die from heart disease than those whose daily intake is under 10%.
8. Manage stress. Stress puts a major strain on your heart, raising blood pressure, narrowing arteries, and increasing bad (LDL) cholesterol. Find ways to cope better with it: exercise, meditation, long walks, whatever you can comfortably fit into your day.
9. Get regular health screenings. Your concierge physicians at MD 2.0 will regularly screen you for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, all of which are factors in heart disease. Call us to schedule an appointment today.
10. Laugh, love, think positive. Studies have shown that laughter, social connections, and an optimistic outlook on life can lower stress hormones, decrease inflammation in your arteries, and raise your levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.