A healthy lifestyle is important to keep your heart healthy. February is known as American Heart month! Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and often times can be prevented. Because of this, the awareness about heart health and the urge to prevent heart disease is encouraged throughout the month of February.
In 2004 the American Heart Association faced a challenge. 500,000 American women were dying each year of cardiovascular disease, yet women weren’t being given the attention they needed. Many believed cardiovascular disease was an older man disease. To dismiss the myth, Go Red For Women was coined. This movement empower women to take charge of their heart health.
The first Friday of February has been designated by the awareness campaign, Heart Truth, as National Wear Red Day in the united States. Men and women are encouraged on this day to wear red as a symbol of their support of women’s heart health.
When we make healthy lifestyle choices and manage our health conditions we can combat the risk factors of heart disease. Here are the top 11 heart healthy tips:
1.ENGAGE IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES
Engaging in physical activities is essential to fight against heart disease. Every effort helps in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
Brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis, and jumping rope. Strength training (weight lifting, resistance training).
2. EAT HEART HEALTHY FRUITS
Different berries have been proven to have properties that lower blood pressure and high cholesterol. Blueberries contain high levels of compounds that help widen the arteries and help blood flow smoothly. Strawberries contain compounds that widen the arteries and help prevent plaque buildup lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Strawberries also contain vitamin C that help heal inflammation in the arteries. Raspberries & Blackberries are low in fat and have high levels of polyphenols, which help reduce heart disease risk.
*Blackberries have the highest LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins/bad cholesterol) INHIBITORY effects.
3. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Sleep is essential for a healthy heart. People who don’t sleep enough are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease regardless of age, weight, exercise habits, or smoking. Lack of sleep can increase insulin resistance, a risk factor in developing Type 11 Diabetes and heart disease. Shortened sleep patterns increases C-Reactive Proteins (CRP), which is released with stress and inflammation. Increase levels of CRP place us at risk for cardiovascular and heart disease. The development of atherosclerosis (laying down of cholesterol inside the blood vessel walls) is associated with inflammation with the vessel walls.
*Proper sleep protects against atherosclerosis.
4. DON’T SIT FOR TOO LONG AT ONE TIME
Sitting a lot can kill you even if you exercise regularly. “Sitting is the new smoking” is the saying floating around. Blood flow slows down, which allows fatty acids to build up in the blood vessels. This can lead to heart disease.
5. LAUGH OUT LOUD
Laughing out loud according to American Heart Association research suggests laughing can lower stress hormones, decrease inflammation in our arteries, and raise our levels of High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) good cholesterol.
*Enjoy a good movie or company with friends.
6. RAISE A GLASS OR TWO
Red wine in moderation improves heart health. Red wine contains antioxidant resveratrol that help protect the lining of the blood vessels in our heart, lowering plaque buildup and blood pressure. Moderation is KEY! Don’t guzzle this at every meal. One glass daily for women Two glasses daily for men
*PINOT NOIR is the healthiest red wine and contains the HIGHEST concentration of the antioxidant resveratrol.
7. MAKE TIME FOR BREAKFAST
The first meal of the day is very IMPORTANT! Eating a nutritious breakfast everyday can help maintain a healthy diet and a healthy weight. Whole-grains (Whole-grain cereals or whole-wheat toast) Low-Fat dairy products (Low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt).
8. TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE
Let’s do something our cardiovascular system will appreciate! Ignore the angry drivers who cut us off and give us the finger. Stay off our cell phones, and simply ENJOY our ride without the stress. Long term stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. In addition, it causes blood to clot which can cause heart attack or stroke.
9. VISIT YOUR DOCTORS REGULARLY
Knowing our personal health numbers (High Cholesterol, High Density Lipoproteins/HDL, Low Density Lipoproteins/LDL, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, and Body Mass Index) can help us determine our RISK for heart disease. Testing is simple and provides the information we need to take steps towards improving our heart’s health.
10. EAT THE CHOCOLATE
Dark chocolate that is! It offers a cardiovascular protection because flavonoids found in cocoa help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, prevent clots and fight cell damage.
*The higher the cocoa content of the bar, the better it is for your health. Look for bars with 70% cocoa or more.
11. LEARN CPR
Last but not the least learn CPR! Because 70% of all cardiac arrest happens in the home we will most likely need to perform CPR on a family member or loved one. It is highly recommended that we all learn CPR considering the risk factors of heart disease and it’s increase chance of sudden cardiac arrest.