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8 Habits for a Healthier Heart

8 Habits for a Healthier Heart

Heart Failure Awareness Week is observed the second week of February, to coincide with Valentines Day. This week’s aim is to educate individuals about the importance of maintaining a healthy heart and making lifestyle choices that support cardiovascular well-being.

It is estimated that a staggering 80% of cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease, can be prevented (World Heart Federation). With heart disease being the leading cause of death worldwide, we should take action to protect ourselves from this often preventable disease before it develops into heart failure.

Heart failure occurs when your heart can’t supply enough blood to meet your body’s needs. This is a long-term condition that usually comes on slowly. However, it can develop suddenly, for instance, after a heart attack.

Not all heart problems come with warning signs. Some heart symptoms may not even happen in your chest, and it’s not always easy to tell what’s going on. According to the Mayo Clinic, some signs to be aware of include experiencing shortness of breath during physical activity or when lying down, feeling tired and weak, noticing swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet, experiencing a rapid or irregular heartbeat, having difficulty exercising as usual, and suddenly gaining weight due to fluid buildup.

Not getting enough exercise, unhealthy eating, and smoking increases your chance of developing heart failure. In addition, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol are other factors that can increase your risk. (American Heart Association)

Improving heart health involves making conscious choices consistently towards heart healthy habits. (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion), suggests,

Eating a Balanced Diet: Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. Limit saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars.

Exercising Regularly: Engage in physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week. Activities like walking, cycling, and swimming can help improve cardiovascular fitness.

Managing Stress: Practice stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga to reduce the impact of stress on your heart.

Monitoring Blood Pressure: Check your blood pressure regularly and work with your healthcare provider to manage it within a healthy range.

Controlling Cholesterol: Maintain healthy cholesterol levels by following a heart-healthy diet and, if necessary, taking prescribed medications.

Maintaining Healthy Weight: Achieve and maintain a healthy weight through a combination of balanced eating and regular physical activity.

Limiting Alcohol Consumption: If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to heart problems.

Quit Smoking: If you smoke, seek support to quit smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Getting Adequate Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.

Heart disease is easier to treat when detected early. Do not ignore warning signs and take action to protect yourself. Talk to your health care provider if you have any concerns about your heart health