It’s a known fact that the way you choose to live your life directly affects your health. If you’ve developed some unhealthy habits, your heart may be paying the ultimate price. But are you aware of what bad habits could be damaging your heart? Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, physical inactivity, being overweight and a poor diet to name a few. Luckily, you have the power to change these bad habits into a healthier lifestyle.
Replacing these habits with healthy ones is much easier said than done, but if you do it, your heart will thank you in the long run. By avoiding the bad habits listed above, you can take steps toward better heart health.
Heart Health and Your Family
Have a family? Making heart health a priority for each family member can make a difference in their overall health. We know it may be hard to get your children (or husband) on board, but there are ways you can encourage your entire family to have heart-healthy habits.
Heart Health in Men
Heart disease is the number one killer of men in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 70 and 89 percent of sudden cardiac events happen in men. The heart condition most likely to take their toll on men is coronary artery disease. Check out the “Proven Heart-Healthy Habits” below to see how men can control the risk factors for developing heart disease.
Heart Health in Women
One in four women die from heart disease. Heart disease, more specifically coronary artery disease, is also the number one cause of death for women in the United States, making heart health a top priority for a woman. Heart disorders that mainly affect women are coronary microvascular disease (MVD) and broken heart syndrome. Broken heart syndrome is a temporary condition that is most often brought on because of stress. Some women will not experience any symptoms of heart disease, while other women may experience angina (dull to heavy chest pain).The good news is that women can control many of the risk factors for heart disease. You’ll find them below in “Proven Heart-Healthy Habits”.
There are differences in heart health between males and females. Women have subtler heart symptoms where men are more likely to feel intense chest pain.
A man’s chest pain during a heart attack feels feels more like an elephant sitting on his chest during a heart attack. Both men and women experience angina, however, angina in men can worsen with physical activity and eases with rest.
Helping Children Have a Healthy Heart
Having a hard time getting your child on board with new and healthier habits? The earlier you can start your child on healthy habits, the better. It’s important to remember that it’s difficult for adults to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle, so it’ll likely be difficult for children as well. Make sure you are doing what you want your children to do because they are likely looking to you as their example.
When it comes to a heart-healthy diet, one way to get a child or children involved in the process is for them to pick out their own produce and healthy foods at the grocery store, and then prepare it together when you are at home. This keeps children interested in the process and it’s a fun family activity.
Proven Heart-Healthy Habits
Exercising For Your Heart
Why is exercise good for your heart? There are too many reasons to count! It decreases the risk factors for heart disease, improves overall heart health, improves your strength, and feelings of well-being improve. Some heart-healthy exercises include:
- Riding a bike
- Water aerobics or any aerobic exercise
Aerobic exercise packs tons of cardiovascular benefits. Aerobic exercise reduces the risk of conditions such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. On top of those benefits, aerobic activities can strengthen a person’s heart. If a heart is stronger, it can pump blood more efficiently, which improves overall blood flow. Even more, aerobic exercise may help keep your arteries clear of plaque buildup.
Maintaining A Heart-Healthy Diet
What’s one of your best weapons against heart disease? A healthy diet. Maintaining a heart-healthy diet is not as difficult as you may think. By following these steps, a heart-healthy diet will be a breeze.
- Eat a variety of foods. When it comes to eating a heart-healthy diet, don’t stick to one food group. Eating nutrient-rich foods can help a person control their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Make sure you and your family’s diet is packed with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, nuts and legumes and skinless poultry and fish.
- Pay attention to calories. It’s important to know how many calories are healthy for you to consume each day. To prevent weight gain, a person would need to make sure they don’t consume more calories in a day than they can burn off. If the number of calories you consume increases, so should your level of exercise.
- Stay away from unhealthy foods. The calories you should eat each day to have a heart-healthy diet is based on age, physical activity level and whether you’re trying to maintain, lose or gain weight. To get the nutrients you need, you shouldn’t spend your day’s calories on only a few food and drink items. Also, it’s important to limit the amount of trans fat, saturated fat and sodium you consume.
It may seem difficult to begin preparing meals with heart health in mind. Have no fear! UnityPoint Clinic has recipes that won’t make just your family smile, but your heart, too!
Work On Your Stress Levels
Stress, especially severe stress, can have an enormous effect on heart health. How? When stress levels are excessive, there could be an increase in blood pressure. On top of that, stress can lead to indulging in bad habits, like eating poorly or excessive drinking. Both of these habits can lead to an increase in blood pressure or higher cholesterol levels. So what are some ways to beat stress? We have a few.
- Be social with friends and family.
- Be active daily.
- Laugh as much as possible.
- Get enough sleep.
- “Unplug” and slow down.
UnityPoint Health Can Help You Develop Heart-Healthy Habits
No matter your age, making sure your heart is in good health is important to your overall health. The skilled providers at UnityPoint Health can help you develop heart-healthy habits to lead a healthier, happier life. Find a location near you today to ensure that your habits are helping your heart. Does your heart require attention from a specialist? UnityPoint Health providers are able to refer individuals to make sure they’re receiving the best care possible.
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