10 steps to protect your heart health

A majority of deaths are caused by heart disease, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Heart disease risk can be reduced in several ways. Heart health for starters can be achieved by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check out these 10 heart-healthy tips to get started.

1. Stay aware of your risk

It is ideal if you can start doing regular health checks once you have crossed 40 years of age provided you or your family members do not have a history of heart disease. If you smoke, have kidney disease, or come from a family with heart disease, you may be at greater risk. Staying aware of what you are at risk of can go a long way in keeping you healthy and disease-free.

2. A healthy diet is a must

Diet plays an important role in preventing cardiovascular disease. The risk of heart disease is reduced by 22% if you consume about 8 servings of fruits & vegetables every day. Among the heart-healthy foods are whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry, fish, legumes, and nuts. It is advisable to keep sugar, salt, processed foods, saturated fats, alcohol, and trans fats to a minimum.

3. Ensure you are physically active

The benefits of physical activity include weight control and a reduced risk of heart disease. It is recommended that adults do some physical activity for a minimum of 2-2.5 hrs a week. If you’re already exercising regularly, you can increase the time to get greater benefits.

4. Maintaining healthy body weight is essential

Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease. Excess weight can lead to conditions that raise the chances of developing heart diseases such as high BP, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. An individual with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or greater is considered overweight.

5. Avoid tobacco

Tobacco products are never safe. Heart and blood vessel damage can be caused by chemicals in tobacco. However, as soon as you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops. That said, it is best to avoid tobacco products altogether to stay risk-free.

6. Ensure you stick to your medicine schedule if you are already on treatment

If you have a health condition, your doctor may prescribe certain medications to help manage it. You must take all the medicines as per schedule as directed by your physician. Missing out on regular medicines also increases your risk of disease.

7. Maintain a healthy blood pressure level

High BP or high blood pressure also referred to as hypertension occurs when the force with which blood flows through the blood vessels is high. This can damage your blood vessels, and cause high BP which can go undetected. Ultimately, this can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, etc. So it is advisable to ensure your blood pressure is within the normal range at all times.

8. Maintain a healthy cholesterol level

Cholesterol is produced by our liver and is also found in food. There is good as well as bad cholesterol. Today, however, our diets are such that we consume more bad cholesterol (LDL) and trans fats. As we consume a diet rich in saturated fats, the amount of cholesterol produced by the body increases. It is advisable to consciously include unsaturated fats in the diet to keep our hearts hale and healthy.

9. Maintain healthy blood sugar levels

When we consume food, it is most often converted to glucose for energy. With time, if there is a consistently high level of sugar in the blood, it can cause adverse effects on the kidneys, heart, eyes, etc. A diet with lots of fibre and whole grains and devoid of refined sugar will go a long way in helping manage sugar levels.

10. Sleep Sleep is the least discussed and underrated element of one’s health. Lack of sleep can put you at risk of heart disease, obesity, and a lot more. At least 7 hours of sound sleep is needed for an adult to help avert any dangerous situation. Prioritise sleep if you want to live a healthy life.