Your heart is the beating core of your body. It keeps you alive by pumping blood through your veins, an average of 103,680 times a day. That’s why it’s so important to keep your heart healthy!
A healthy heart is a heart that is able to pump blood efficiently, without having to struggle against clogged blood vessels. Unfortunately, many people suffer from heart disease, which is when the heart becomes unhealthy. Some common types of heart disease include coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, heart structure problems, and heart failure.
So what can you do to improve your heart health? Here are 5 simple tips from a real internal medicine physician with 30+ years of clinical experience:
- Get Moving!
Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and it’s no secret that it keeps your heart healthy. When you exercise, your heart works harder, and it helps to strengthen the heart muscle, which, in turn, makes it easier to pump blood throughout your body. With more oxygen and nutrients reaching your cells, you’ll feel a difference in your overall performance. Additionally, exercise also reduces chronic inflammation, which can help prevent other diseases, such as diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends engaging in 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity every week. So, whether it’s dancing, gardening, or running, find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your daily routine. Don’t forget to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.
2. Eat Well, Live Well
In addition to exercise, a balanced diet is equally important for a healthy heart. Maintaining a healthy body weight and eating healthy is crucial for heart health. The American Heart Association provides evidence-based guidelines to help you make healthy food choices. Avoid ultra-processed foods, choose whole grains over refined grains, drink fewer beverages with added sugars, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, limit your salt intake, and pick healthy protein sources such as legumes, seafood, low-fat milk products, and lean meat. By taking the time to read nutrition labels, keeping track of your calories, and preparing your food, you’ll find it easier to maintain a balanced diet. Don’t forget to consult a healthcare provider if you have any medical conditions or are making any changes to your diet.
3. Manage Your Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in animal-based foods and carried in the body by lipoproteins. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are considered good cholesterol, while low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are not. HDL helps prevent plaque buildup in your arteries and reduces the risk of heart disease. Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood, and if you consistently consume more calories than you burn, especially from carbohydrates, you may have high triglyceride levels, which can increase your risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends tracking your cholesterol and triglyceride levels regularly to keep them within a healthy range.
4. Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check
High blood sugar levels can cause chronic inflammation and increase your risk of heart disease. If you have Type 2 diabetes, your body may have insulin resistance, which prevents glucose from leaving your bloodstream, resulting in high blood glucose levels. To manage your blood sugar levels, it’s important to understand what causes high blood sugar levels and track your blood glucose regularly, especially if you have Type 2 diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends using an A1c test to measure your blood sugar levels over the past 2 to 3 months. This test can help diagnose diabetes, pre diabetes, and gestational diabetes, and determine if your medication is working.
5. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Finally, don’t forget the importance of a good night’s sleep. Sleeping less than 7–9 hours per night or having poor sleep quality can increase the risk of heart disease. A good night’s sleep is associated with many benefits, including enhancing the healing and repair of cells, tissues, and blood vessels, strengthening the immune system, and boosting your mood and energy, all of which will help you to proactively tackle activities which can improve your overall cardiovascular health.