Heart disease has proven to be a huge threat to the lives of men and women living in the U.S. year after year. According to WebMD, heart disease causes nearly 1 in 3 deaths in women compared to 1 in 30 for breast cancer. Despite this staggering statistic, many women still don’t take enough precautions against the leading cause of death. In fact, that is the very reason why so many women are at risk of heart disease— lack of commitment to a heart-healthy lifestyle (American Heart Association). If you think that means it's time to really get serious about living healthier, you're right! But don't get overwhelmed by the idea of revamping your entire life to ward off the threat of cardiovascular diseases.
Rather than worrying about unhealthy habits in your routine, get busy and follow these steps to keep your heart happy and healthy:
1. Maintain a Good Diet
It’s a known fact: having healthy eating habits can lower your heart disease risk. Although you might know this, it is tough to completely change your eating habits. However, with time and understanding, knowing which foods to limit and which ones to consume will lead you to a heart-healthy diet. Also, make sure to control portion sizes. Restaurants often serve up way more food than you need, so don’t feel pressured to eat everything on your plate. The next time you eat out ask your server to box half of your meal before or soon after it's brought to the table.
2. Be Physically Active
Physical activity will help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, while also lowering blood sugar levels (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Keep in mind, something is better than nothing. If you are currently inactive, start out with something slow. Then, work your way up to faster and possibly longer exercises.
3. Avoid Smoking
If you smoke tobacco, try to quit. Smoking is a huge contributor to heart disease. Even being in the presence of secondhand smoke can do some serious harm. The American Heart Association reports nonsmokers are up to 30 percent more likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer from secondhand smoke exposure at home or work.
4. Control Stress Levels
When you are bombarded with school, work, family, and everything else, stress is inevitable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take measures to manage your stress. Activities like meditation, heavy breathing, and journaling are strong tools that can help with stress management (if you need more, click here). Working to reduce your stress can prevent you from looking to unhealthy habits that might temporarily help you cope with your stress, but damage your body.
5. Reach a Healthy Weight
Obesity is very common in America, especially in women. According to the American Heart Association, obesity places you at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes — the very factors that heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease. Maintaining a good diet and being physically active can ward off obesity, which in turn lowers heart disease risk.
6. Limit Alcohol Consumption
A constant intake of multiple alcoholic beverages increases your blood pressure. To avoid this concern, stick to 1 drink per day (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Moderation is key and assists in avoiding key dangers to your health.
7. Lower Your High Blood Pressure
You may not realize it, but an increase in weight can severely increase your blood pressure. You can maintain a healthy weight by avoiding large amounts of salt and sugar, which also affect your blood pressure levels.
Heart disease has done enough, and it’s time to be more aware— of both the harm and the guidelines that can help lower the risk. If you have any tips on how to steer clear of cardiovascular diseases, share them with us in the comments below!