With today’s high rates of heart disease, keeping your heart in good condition is important now more than ever. Having a healthy heart is essential to your quality of life and longevity. It is never too early to start taking better care of your heart. Heart disease isn’t something that just happens to older people. It is increasingly affecting younger individuals as well. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve the health of your heart. In particular, proper diet, exercise and routine medical care are of utmost importance.
Healthy Heart Diet
Overweight people have an increased chance of having heart disease since excess weight leads to conditions that lead to heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. To maintain a healthy weight, try eating plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and lean proteins. Eating too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, and part of a healthy heart diet is becoming aware of how much sodium you take in. You should have no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day, and if you are older or at greater risk for heart disease, you should have no more than 1500 mg of sodium per day. Limiting bad fats is also important for maintaining healthy blood cholesterol levels. These include saturated fat, Trans fat and cholesterol. Many saturated fats are found in meats and animal products. Trans fat tends to turn up in packaged foods. A few foods that are particularly heart healthy are berries, walnuts, soy, flaxseed, apples and tomatoes.
Exercise for Heart Health
Exercise will also help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Getting 30-60 minutes of moderately intense exercise most days of the week is ideal, but even smaller amounts make a difference. Exercise should include both cardio and strength training. Not only will you burn calories and lose weight through exercise, but you will also raise your “good” cholesterol and lower your “bad” cholesterol as well as reduce blood pressure. Check in with your doctor before you begin an exercise regimen to ensure you are good to go.
Routine Medical Care
Getting regular screenings at your doctor of your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose is an important part of heart health. You won’t know whether or not you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure unless you get checked. Since having diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease, your glucose levels should be checked as well. Sometimes your doctor will require you to undergo a special cardiac procedure for your heart. An echo-cardiogram measures blood flow and sounds waves to construct an image showing potential blockages or other conditions in the heart. A coronary angiogram is used to identify blocked or narrowed arteries. You will go to a place that performs the cardiac procedure you need, such as a hospital or a place like ICE, Institute of Cardiovascular Excellence.
Implementing healthy heart habits before heart disease develops is a practice everyone should undertake. Heart disease can also affect younger people, and starting healthy heart practices young can help ward off heart disease at an older age. Maintaining weight through diet and exercise lowers your risk of heart disease. Part of eating a healthy heart diet is watching sodium and limiting bad fats. Exercise, in addition to weight maintenance, will lower “bad” cholesterol, raise “good” cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. Finally, getting routine medical care is essential to identify conditions that put you at risk for heart disease.