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Heart Health 101

Show your heart some love and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Article Author: Wesley Roberts

Article Date:

Go Red for Women

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One person dies every 33 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. But many of these cases may have been prevented through education and healthy lifestyle changes.

Lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease can feel overwhelming. In reality, making only one change can make a big difference for heart health and the goal can be customized to fit your lifestyle.

Heart-healthy habits and lifestyle changes

Here are 9 ways you can achieve your goal of lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease:

1. Know your numbers.

You can't manage what you don't measure. Knowing your risk of cardiovascular disease starts with knowing your numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and BMI are a couple of them. You should also know your family history and risk factors.

For a free 30-minute health assessment, take the Know Your Numbers challenge.

2. Get active.

Set a goal of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity, physical activity every week.

3. Lose weight if you need to.

When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and musculoskeletal system.

4. Live smoke-free.

Cigarette smokers and other tobacco users have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease than non-smokers. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.

5. Break up with salt.

Extra sodium in your diet can cause your blood pressure to rise, increasing your cardiovascular disease risk. And while you're at it, break up with added sugars, which can also lead to an elevated risk of heart disease and stroke.

Learn how to read food labels to avoid excess salt and sugar.

6. Stay hydrated.

Keeping your body hydrated helps your heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles.

Olivia Bullock, DO, a family medicine physician with Baptist Primary Care shared some quick tips too boost your hydration, consistently.

7. Eat better.

A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet with healthy fats like olive oil, you feel better and can improve your chances of staying healthy, for life!

8. Manage your stress.

Your mind deserves better than to be loaded down with the never-ending job of worrying. Long-term activation of your body's stress response system can lead to many health troubles, including elevated blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

We all need a self-care day to recharge.

9. Sleep your way to whole-body health.

Studies have found that most people need 6 to 8 hours of sleep each day and that too little or too much can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attacks.

If you have questions about living a heart-healthy lifestyle, Baptist Health Y Health Living Centers provide health coaching at locations throughout the community. You can learn more or request a free health screening online.

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