Blog & News
5 Tips to Safeguard Your Heart Health
Heart health and a healthy lifestyle are directly connected, and avoiding bad habits is a key component of improving heart health. High blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood pressure all negatively affect heart health, and can lead to heart attack, stroke, peripheral artery disease, aortic aneurysm, or heart failure.
The good news is that bad habits can be altered, and damage from these habits can often be reversed. To help you get started, we’ve created this free printable planner to help you log your diet and exercise goals & progress: February Heart Health Planner
By following the advice below, you can be on the road back to optimal heart health and greatly reduce the likeliness of heart-related issues later in life.
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol.
Smoking is bad for heart health because cigarette smoke contains chemicals that damage the lining of arteries and blood vessels, leading to a buildup of fatty material that narrows the artery. Carbon dioxide in tobacco smoke also reduces the oxygen in your blood, making your heart pump harder to supply the body with oxygen. Alcohol also has negative effects on heart health. While some studies have shown that a glass of red wine a day can actually reduce the occurrence of heart problems—due to the production of good cholesterol—the same can be said of drinking grape juice or eating grapes. If you drink, you should do so in moderation (no more than 1-2 drinks per day).
- Improve your diet.
Processed foods, sodium, sugary drinks, red meat, and rapidly digested carbohydrates all lead to an increased risk of heart disease. By limiting the amount of these foods while increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables, unsaturated fat, and whole grains, you can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease.
Exercise is by far the best way to combat potential heart problems. Physical activity that gets your heart pumping helps to strengthen your cardiovascular system. For optimal health, aim for at least 30 minutes of activity per day. A physical therapist can help you to develop a routine that will best help to prevent heart disease.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
If you’re overweight, the extra weight you’re carrying around puts additional strain on your heart, which causes high blood pressure. Being overweight is also associated with higher risk of diabetes. Chronic high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, which can ultimately lead to heart disease. By dropping 5-10% of your body weight, you dramatically reduce your risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Opioid use has been directly connected to cardiovascular problems and heart disease. By using opioid medications to treat chronic pain, you dramatically increase your chances of suffering from heart disease. By treating chronic pain with physical therapy rather than long-term opioid use, you can restore yourself to optimal health without the increased risk of heart disease.
For more information on how to reach optimal heart health using safe and proven methods, please contact your local ACCESS PT office. We’d love to help you get back to feeling your best so that you can live an active, healthy lifestyle!