February is officially known as Heart Health Month. Heart disease is the cause of one out of three deaths and the number one killer globally, but it can be preventable by making a few changes in both exercise, diet, and regular checkups. Everyday Health has a few tips to keep your heart healthy:
Monitor and maintain your blood pressure: Hypertension is a condition often ignored and left untreated by many but it is a big risk factor when it comes to heart disease. Monitor your blood pressure regularly and keep taking the medication. Follow up with your doctor regularly too.
Avoid smoking: Smoking increases the chances of heart disease by a factor of two to four. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for those that smoke compared to lung disease.
Avoid sugar: Studies show that Americans consume sugar more than an average person and it is a big contributor to the development of heart diseases. To reduce your sugar intake try replacing sodas with water or herb tea, choose fruits instead of baked goods or candies, and avoid processed foods as much as possible.
Eat healthily: Eat nuts, fruits, and vegetables as much as possible along with a good amount of whole grains. Try to have a weekly serving of fish, it reduces the risk of coronary artery disease and is highly rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil supplementation can also help protect against cardiac risks. Garlic is also known to be highly beneficial for heart disease. It lowers the cholesterol, maintains the blood pressure and decreases the number of platelets in blood preventing it from clotting.
Stay active: An inactive lifestyle increases the risk of heart disease. Regular exercise can help reduce this risk. Some studies have found that incorporating brisk walking in your daily routine reduces the three main causes of cardiovascular diseases, namely blood cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension.
Some sun exposure is beneficial: Ultraviolet rays from the sunlight triggers the production of vitamin D in the body which lowers blood pressure. A daily exposure of ten to fifteen minutes of sunlight can help maintain proper levels of vitamin D.
Controlling stress levels: Stress can trigger the body to release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that increase heart rate and blood pressure. These hormones can also make blood platelets to become stickier which can then cause blood clots and high blood glucose. This can lead to further risks of hypertension, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.
Getting enough sleep: A study review reveals that sleep deprivation can lead to heart risks including hypertension, coronary heart disease, and diabetes.
Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight can lead to health issues including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Even losing a few pounds will help provide cardiovascular benefits as you work toward a healthy weight goal. Talk to your physician about safe and monitored weight loss management.
Have some hibiscus or hawthorn tea: These teas offer a healthier option in place of sodas or sugary juices. Hawthorn tea has been proven to be effective for multiple heart issues and hibiscus helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol.