Improving your Heart Health. Simple Steps That Make a Significant Impact


heart healthAlthough heart disease is severe and sometimes deadly, it is often preventable. If you are concerned about heart health, consider the many changes you can make to improve your overall health and lessen your chances of heart-related complications. You will be surprised to learn how easy it is to make certain significant changes.

Routine Checkups for Heart Health

Routine checkups with your health care provider are important because they help you identify problems you may not have known existed. Your doctor can give you specific health advice, taking into account your lifestyle and family history. Not many people enjoy visiting the doctor, especially because a busy schedule can make it tough to do so, but regular checkups are imperative to heart health, particularly for those who have heart risks. If you cannot get to the doctor, consider having a cholesterol screening and blood pressure reading done at your pharmacy or health department. Remember, high blood pressure is called the silent killer because it often arises without symptoms. Don’t risk your heart health, make time in your schedule.

Exercise

You do not have to have fancy home-gym equipment or a membership to the local health club to get in shape. Furthermore, you do not have to perform physically grueling routines daily. Some of the most enjoyable activities, such as walking, swimming and bicycling, may help reduce your risks of heart disease—granted you are doing them routinely. Do these moderate activities for approximately 30 minutes most days of the week and watch your waistline shrink. You will also sleep better, increase your cardiovascular health and improve your mood.

Monitor Your Blood Sugar

The primary cause of death among diabetics is cardiovascular disease. In fact, approximately 68 percent of people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke, according to the National Diabetes Education Program. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable by eating well-balanced meals helps reduce heart risks and diabetes complications.

Stop Smoking and Avoid Second-Hand Smoke

Although most public places have banned smoking, many people still find places to sneak a puff. If you are nonsmoker, you might be ingesting the harmful fumes second-hand, and thereby increasing your heart and health risks. Second-hand smoke has immediate harmful effects on your cardiovascular system, and may increase your heart risks by 25 to 30 percent. You do not have to sever friendships with your smoker friends; just ask them to enjoy their nicotine elsewhere. Or better yet, encourage them to quit altogether.

References: American Heart Association: Heart Health Factors: Get Active http://mylifecheck.heart.org/Multitab.aspx?NavID=8&CultureCode=en-US;   National Diabetes Education Program: The Facts About Diabetes: America’s Seventh Leading Cause of Death http://ndep.nih.gov/diabetes-facts/index.aspx#linkedtodiabetes;  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Smoking and Tobacco Use: Heart Disease and Stroke http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/health_effects/heart_disease/index.htm

Mara Gerke