As the most vital muscle in your body, it’s important to keep your heart strong and functioning properly. Fortunately, maintaining a healthy heart isn’t complicated. Instead, it involves simple and straightforward strategies that you can implement at home. Here’s how:
Avoid Tobacco Products and Secondhand Smoke
Tobacco use is a major contributor to heart disease, increasing your risk of arterial plaque build-up, peripheral artery disease, and other problems that can lead to heart attack or failure.
If you are currently using tobacco products, quitting is highly recommended. Even if you’ve been smoking for a long time, quitting can still significantly reduce your risk of developing heart problems. Check out the CDC’s website for helpful tips on how to quit.
Additionally, avoid secondhand smoke as this also poses significant health risks. Prohibit smoking in your home or car. As much as possible, try to avoid public locations that allow smoking.
All types of physical activity provide at least some cardiovascular benefits, but if you really want to focus on your heart health, experts at Johns Hopkins recommend the following types of exercises:
- Aerobic Exercises: Walking, running, swimming, and cycling all help improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure, and reduce your resting heart rate. Aim for 30-minute exercise sessions five days a week for better effectiveness.
- Resistance Training: Improving your overall strength helps eliminate fat and increase lean muscle mass. Try to use free weights, weight machines, or just do push-ups and chin-ups at least two nonconsecutive days a week.
- Flexibility Exercises: While stretching doesn’t directly benefit your heart, improving your musculoskeletal health makes aerobic and resistance exercise easier and more effective. Flexibility exercises include basic stretches, tai chi poses, yoga poses, and similar techniques.
However, if you have pre-existing heart conditions, consult with your doctor first to know which exercises are safe for you.
Maintain A Heart-Healthy Diet
Choose the right foods and avoid the wrong ones to keep your heart healthy. One popular and effective strategy is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan. The DASH plan focuses on simple daily and weekly goals, such as:
- Vegetables – four to five servings daily.
- Fruits – four to five servings each day.
- Nuts and seeds – four to five servings each week.
Additionally, you’ll want to avoid foods with high amounts of saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. Be careful with trans fats, as they’re often hard to identify in a list of ingredients. They’re sometimes listed as “partially hydrogenated oils.”
Add Supplements to Your Diet
While most of the nutrition in your diet should come from real food, supplements can provide an additional boost. The following supplements can help improve your heart health:
- Supplements that are rich in Vitamins B3 (Niacin), K, and E.
- Herbs such as garlic, ginseng, and echinacea.
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, commonly known as fish oil. This is a great alternative, especially for those who don’t like to eat fish.
Consult with your doctor to learn more about what type of supplements will help with your specific needs.
Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy
Dental health is also related to your heart health in several ways. First, your oral health acts as an early warning system for a variety of diseases in your body, and that includes your heart. Regular dental checkups don’t just keep your teeth clean; they can also keep your heart healthy.
Additionally, periodontal issues can potentially increase your risk of cardiovascular trouble. Gum disease creates an abundance of unwanted bacteria in your mouth. Eventually, this bacteria can enter your bloodstream where it can inflame blood vessels and increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Fortunately, maintaining good oral health can easily be done at home. Just take note of the following:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Visit your dentist for a checkup every six months.
Alert your dentist if you notice any signs of gum disease such as redness, swelling, or soreness. Also, take note if your teeth look longer, as that often signals gum recession. If you have periodontal disease, you need a professional deep cleaning done as soon as possible to help reduce the bacteria that can potentially enter your bloodstream.
Your mindset can also play a significant role in your heart health. When you feel stressed, your body releases cortisol and adrenaline, both of which increase your blood pressure and cholesterol level.
In addition, chronic stress can increase a person’s likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors such as increased alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Instead, try to develop healthy methods of dealing with stress, such as meditation, yoga, or other types of exercise.
See A Doctor Regularly
Although you can take many important actions at home to help keep your heart healthy, you still need regular medical checkups and care. Moreover, it is most important to constantly monitor your blood pressure too.
You and your doctor should work together to monitor your blood pressure. If it’s above 120/80, you’ll likely need yearly monitoring. You can monitor your blood pressure yourself with a home cuff or through an automated machine at the supermarket. If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, alert your doctor right away.
How To Choose The Right Heart Doctor
To ensure that you get the best medical care for your heart, you have to choose the right kind of doctor. Hence, make sure your doctor has ACLS and PALS certification. Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support are types of emergency medical training focused on heart health and heart-related conditions. Training includes learning how to identify the “H’s and T’s,” which are ten common causes of heart problems. That includes Hypothermia, Toxins, and Thrombosis, among others.
The secret to a healthy heart is commitment and consistency. Exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, stay in regular contact with your doctor, and try to avoid stress. Additionally, avoid unhealthy foods and substances such as alcohol and tobacco.