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Lifestyle Habits to Keep Your Heart Healthy

By Griffin Hospital on 1/31/2018

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, and stroke is the number five cause of death. Your lifestyle is not only your best defense against heart disease and stroke, it’s also one that you have some control over, depending on the decisions you make. Below are seven simple ways you can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, by making changes to your daily lifestyle.

  1. Stop Smoking: If you smoke, quit. If someone in your household smokes, encourage them to quit. We know it's tough. But it's tougher to recover from a heart attack or stroke or to live with chronic heart disease. Commit to quit. We're here to help – Griffin has smoking cessation support programs to help you every step of the way.
  2. Choose Nutrient-Rich Foods. A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease. The food you eat (and the amount) can affect other controllable risk factors: cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and overweight. Choose nutrient-rich foods — which have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories — over nutrient-poor foods. Choose a diet that emphasizes intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; includes low-fat dairy products, and limits intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats.
  3. Watch your blood pressure: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke a leading cause of disability in the United States. Shake that salt habit, take your medications as recommended by your doctor and get moving. An optimal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mmHg.
  4. Be physically active every day: Research has shown that 3–4 sessions per week, lasting on average 40 minutes per session, and involving moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level. Even 10 minutes at a time may offer some health benefits. Studies show that people who have achieved even a moderate level of fitness are much less likely to die early than those with a low fitness level.
  5. Aim for a healthy weight: Obesity is highly prevalent in America, not only for adults but also for children.Fad diets and supplements are not the answer. Good nutrition, controlling calorie intake and physical activity are the only way to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity places you at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes — the very factors that heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  6. Reduce stress: A few studies have noted a relationship between coronary heart disease risk and stress in a person's life that may affect the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For example, people under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would. Research has even shown that stress reaction in young adults predicts middle-age blood pressure risk.
  7. Limit alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, and increase risk of stroke, cancer, and other diseases. It can contribute to high triglycerides and produce irregular heartbeats. Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents. If you drink, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines on drink as 1-1/2 fluid ounces (fl oz) of 80-proof spirits (such as bourbon, Scotch, vodka, gin, etc.), 5 fl oz of wine, or 12 fl oz of regular beer.

Source: American Heart Association

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