January 26, 2018

5 Tips to a Healthier Ticker

Live Healthy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in every four deaths in the United States is a result of heart disease. 

Are you feeling faint of heart? 

There’s good news. There are a few ways to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Here are five of the top tips for a healthier ticker.
 

Lose Weight or Maintain a Healthy Weight

The American Heart Association reports that 69 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese or overweight, and that number is on the rise. 

Being overweight increases your risk for high blood pressure and diabetes, among various other health problems, most of which affect your heart. 

Getting to and maintaining a healthy body weight reduce your risk for developing these health issues and in some cases, may reverse or eliminate the condition.
 

Exercise

Not only can exercise help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight, it can lower the risk of dying from heart disease and potentially prevent the onset of heart disease. 

Staying physically active also assists with keeping blood pressure and HDL cholesterol in check. A 2013 study mentions that higher levels of physical activity were associated with a 21 percent reduction in coronary heart disease events in men and a 29 percent reduction in women. 

It’s recommended that individuals partake in 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity three to four times per week.
 

Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet

Diet is just as important as exercise. However, there are fad diets everywhere we look, and the Internet can’t seem to make up its mind as to what diet is healthiest. 

A plant-based, low-fat diet that’s high in fiber is the most heart-healthy diet, according to both Dr. Roy Chen, a cardiologist and medical director for the Ornish Program at Straub Medical Center, and Jennifer Cheng, a registered nurse at Pali Momi Medical Center. 

Guidelines from Harvard Medical School’s Healthy Eating Plate agree and advise the following:

  • Eat a variety of whole foods. Think of your plate as a circle made up of wholesome, nutritious food. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter with whole grains and the remaining quarter with lean protein.

  • Hydrate. Quench your thirst with water and tea. Avoid high-sugar beverages like soda and juice, which can lead to weight gain and metabolic issues.
     

Manage Stress Levels

Stress is at an all-time high, at least according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, which states that anxiety disorders now affect 40 million adults in the U.S. alone. 

Just the thought of stress can stress someone out! 

“Stress often leads to elevation of harmful hormone release in the body, which ultimately causes hypertension, stroke and kidney failure,” says Chen. 

Luckily, there are ways you can lower and even prevent stress, including the following:

  • Meditate. Practice deep breathing: Relax your muscles and inhale for four seconds; hold your breath for seven seconds; exhale for eight seconds. Repeat. Before you know it your mind will be at ease.

  • Drink less coffee. Regular coffee is loaded with caffeine, which is a stimulant and can cause you to stress over the simplest things. Replace your coffee habit with herbal tea, which is naturally free of caffeine, or switch to decaf.

  • Run off your thoughts. Running releases endorphins, which improves the ability to sleep and thus reduces stress.
     

Quit Smoking

Chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the lining of the arteries, resulting in fatty material buildup and narrowing of the artery. 

This habit can significantly increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which includes coronary heart disease and stroke. Smoking also can elevate blood pressure. 

If you currently smoke and need help quitting, there are free programs available that offer quality cessation support and nicotine replacement therapy to those who are eligible.