Prevention is always better than needing treatment. Tips to help keep your heart healthy include:
Maintain a healthy weight – Obesity can increase your risk for heart disease as it is linked to risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and diabetes. Controlling your weight can lower these risks.
Control your blood pressure – High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. Lifestyle changes including diet and exercise can prevent or control high blood pressure.
Control your cholesterol and triglyceride levels – High levels of cholesterol can clog your arteries and raise your risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. Lifestyle changes including diet and exercise can help to lower your cholesterol.
Eat a healthy diet – A low fat, high fibre diet is recommended, it should include at least 5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains. Salt should be limited, as should saturated fats. Unsaturated fats (found in oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds) however should be included as part of a balanced diet as they have been shown to increase levels of good cholesterol. Sugar should also be limited as it can increase the chances of developing diabetes, which can significantly increase your chances of developing coronary heart disease.
Get regular exercise – Exercise has plenty of benefits, including strengthening your heart and improving your circulation. It can also help to maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure – all of which help to lower your risk of heart disease. Any aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming and dancing makes your heart work harder and helps to keep it healthy.
Limit alcohol – Too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure as well as adding extra calories which may cause weight gain, both which can raise your risk for heart disease.
Give up smoking – Smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. Quitting will lower your risk for heart disease.
Manage stress – Stress can raise your blood pressure. Stress can also lead to unhealthy coping strategies such as overeating, heavy drinking and smoking which are all bad for your heart. There are many ways to help manage your stress including massage, acupuncture, meditation and exercise. Finding what works for you is important as one solution does not fit all. We all experience stress in different ways and the way stress is relieved will be personal to each of us.
Ensure you get enough sleep – Not getting enough sleep can raise your risk of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes – all of which can raise your risk for heart disease. If you have frequent sleep problems, seek the support of a holistic health practitioner to help get to and treat the root cause of the problem.
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