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Heart Health Basics

Everyone knows that the heart is one of the most important organs in our bodies.  It literally keeps us alive.  What many people do not know is that heart disease can be silent, with no noticeable symptoms until a person is in grave danger.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.  About one in four deaths is caused by heart disease. Everyone is at risk.  Heart disease is not specific to a gender or ethnic group. It is not really limited to a certain age group either. Anyone can develop heart disease, which is why it is important to know as much as possible about how to live a heart healthy life.

Some of the people that may have a higher risk of heart disease include people with high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes.  You are also at a higher risk of developing heart disease if you smoke or drink excessively.  Being overweight or obese, eating an unhealthy diet, and not being physically active are also risk factors for developing heart disease.

While genetics also play a role in the development of heart disease, there are ways to prevent heart disease even if it is common in your family.  Here are some ways that you can prevent or slow the progress of heart disease:

  1. Stay away from fatty foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. Sodium should also be limited because a salty diet can cause or contribute to high blood pressure which can contribute to heart disease.
  2. Make sure to get enough exercise. It is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.  The best activities for keeping the heart healthy include aerobic activities like brisk walking, running, and swimming; resistance training like push-ups, squats, and weightlifting; and stretching, flexibility training and balance exercises.
  3. Limit your number of daily alcoholic drinks. The CDC recommends that women have no more than one drink daily and men have no more than two drinks daily.
  4. Quit smoking. Smoking and other tobacco use raises a person’s risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
  5. Cut the stress out. Do things you enjoy that help you relax.  Stay away from unnecessary stressors.  Find healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety.  Stress can wreak havoc on the body’s immune system, blood pressure, heart, and overall well-being.  Try to live a life as free from stress as possible.
  6. Go to regular annual physicals.  Make sure that you and your doctor are aware of any heart disease that may run in the family.  Get the doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol.  Ask your doctor for any new information or recommendations for keeping your heart as healthy as possible.

Take care of your heart, you only have one and your life depends on it.

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