A healthy lifestyle is the key to better heart health and decreasing your risk for heart disease and heart attack. More than half of heart disease is preventable in men and 90 percent of heart attacks in women are preventable.

Top 11 Tips for Better Heart Health

  1. Go in for that Yearly Physical

Have your heart numbers tested every year to see where your heart health is at. Know your numbers for HDL or “good” cholesterol, LDL or “bad” cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, weight, and body mass index (BMI).

  1. Lower your Triglycerides.

Triglycerides are best kept to 150 or lower to reduce your risk for diabetes and heart disease. It is fairly easy to drop your triglyceride level by reducing your intake of saturated fats and losing some weight.

  1. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Foods such as walnuts and Salmon that are high in omega-3 fatty acids can help to decrease inflammation in the arteries surrounding your heart, reduce levels of bad LDL cholesterol, and keep your heart functioning longer and better. Fats also help you to feel full longer and faster which can stop you from over-eating.

  1. Reduce Stress

Stress raises blood pressure, cortisol levels, and heart rate so take time everyday to relax and de-stress. Read a book, take a bath, listen to relaxing music or do some breathing exercises.

  1. Volunteer/Socialize

People who volunteer and spend plenty of time with friends and loved ones have lower blood pressure and live longer.

  1. Do Not Smoke!

Smoking and inhaling smoke from second hand smoking increases your risk for heart disease. Your heart health starts to improve within minutes of kicking the habit and continues to improve the longer you are smoke free. After one year smoke free your heart disease risk is cut in half and after 10 years your heart disease risk is the same as for someone who has never smoked.

  1. A Glass of Wine a Day to Keep the Doctor Away

Women can drink up to one glass and men up to two glasses of alcohol per day to help reduce the risk of heart disease by increasing levels of the good HDL cholesterol. Please note that alcohol can be high in calories which can lead to high blood pressure and increased waist size.

  1. Weight Train

Increasing muscle mass is a great way to reduce your percentage of body fat and lose weight. Weight training twice a week can increase your muscle mass and increase your endurance for aerobic exercise. Increased aerobic capacity means increased levels of your good HDL cholesterol levels.

  1. Your Waist can tell your Heart Health

Women should not have a waist bigger than 35 inches and men’s waists should be no bigger than 40 inches. Measure your waist and if it exceeds these guidelines then you are at increased risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. You may need to change your lifestyle to decrease your waist size: become more physically active and cut down on white sugar, white flour and deep-fried foods.

  1. If you Have High Blood Pressure: Reduce Salt

High blood pressure can lead to heart disease and a diet too high in salt can increase blood pressure. A person with high blood pressure should try to ingest less than 2.3 grams of salt per day-about a teaspoon. Watch out for hidden salt in processed foods and restaurant meals.

  1. Get Enough Sleep

Sleeping less than seven hours per night increases the risk for high blood pressure and higher levels of the stress hormone Cortisol, which makes the arteries more vulnerable to plaque buildup. Recent studies have shown that sleep-deprivation makes people more than twice as likely as the well-rested to die of heart disease. Take time to relax and wind-down before bed and plan your bedtime around when you need to wake up.

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