5 Things You Need to Know About Heart Health
The heart is the center of it all. It’s what keeps you ticking with each rhythmic beat. So are you taking care of your heart? It’s about more than just L-O-V-E when it comes to matters of the heart. Here are 5 things you need to know about heart health.
Heart disease is deadly
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing over 610,000 people each year, according to the CDC. It’s an equal opportunity disease, too, as heart disease does not discriminate based on age, sex or ethnicity.
Are you at risk?
Most cardiovascular disease is caused by a buildup of fatty plaque inside blood vessels (atherosclerosis) or high blood pressure. Smoking doubles your risk for having a heart attack, since it raises both your blood pressure and cholesterol. Other risk factors include: excessive alcohol use, diabetes, obesity, a poor diet, and a lack of exercise. The good news is, regardless of your age, heart disease can be prevented and even reversed.
The symptoms of heart disease vary, and heart attacks display varying warning signs. The most common sign, of course, is chest pain, but extreme fatigue, nausea, and shortness of breath can also be symptoms that your heart is in distress. Women tend to feel jaw pain or radiating discomfort in their left arm. Heart disease can be a silent killer, so it’s best to regularly check in with your doctor to test your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Not all fat is bad fat
It would make sense that eliminating fat and sodium from your diet would be a fool-proof way to guard your heart, but not all fat is bad fat. Good fats, including polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, are found in avocados, almonds, and olive oil, can actually raise your good cholesterol (HDL) and lower the bad cholesterol (LDL), making them heart healthy. When it comes to avoiding fat, stick with eliminating trans fat and saturated fats from your diet.
Work it out
Getting your heart pumping during a sweat session at the gym is the best thing you can do for your heart. The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week with strength training rotated into the schedule at least two times per week. That’s a daily 30-minute brisk walk at lunchtime with loads of benefits, like shrinking your waistline, lowering your stress, and decreasing heart killers–blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Exercising not only makes you happier and lifts your spirits, but your heart will be healthier, too!