Did you know that your heart is made up almost entirely of muscle and it’s strong enough to lift approximately 3,000 pounds? Whoa! Talk about having heart; that’s one strong little organ!
Every year your heart beats about 35 million times, and throughout the course of an average lifetime this small muscle will beat about 2.5 billion times. Each beat counts as it pumps blood to other vital organs. Without these beats your body cannot function, which is why keeping your heart healthy is absolutely crucial. Follow these five tips for a healthy heart.
- Exercise and Weight Management- This is the most obvious way to keep your heart in good working order and it’s also one of the best. The American Heart Association recommends engaging in just 30 minutes of moderate exercise five or more days per week. Cardio workouts are best –they aid in maintaining a healthy weight and strengthening the heart muscle.
- Diet- Another great way to keep your heart and cardiovascular system functioning properly is to eat right. Choose foods that are high in fiber, low in fat and sodium, and antioxidant-rich. This includes fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean meats, such as chicken, turkey and fish. These foods are excellent for cardiovascular health.
- Manage Cholesterol Levels and Blood Pressure- Cholesterol isn’t necessarily bad, but having high levels of cholesterol is one of the direct risk factors for heart disease. High blood pressure is also something to look out for. Both are directly related to developing a heart condition, or experiencing a heart attack. Lack of exercise, stress and a poor diet are all contributing factors to high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- Smoking and Drinking- Smoking is bad for your entire body, but it’s especially bad for your heart because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood, weakens the blood vessels, and lowers good cholesterol levels. If you smoke, consider quitting. Drinking heavily can also negatively affect your heart, so be moderate in your alcohol consumption.
- See Your Doctor Regularly- Make it a priority to schedule regular doctor’s appointments. According to the CDC, “nearly half of all sudden cardiac deaths happen outside a hospital, which suggests that many people are unaware of the early warning signs of heart disease.” Standard checkups can help detect many of the risk factors for heart disease. Once detected, your doctor will be able to suggest medication and lifestyle changes to get your heart on a path to better health. St. Mark’s Hospital is happy to help find a physician if needed.
There you have it! With these five tips, your heart is sure to be happier and healthier. If you would like more guidance on how to improve your heart health, St. Mark’s offers an expert team of dietitians and weight loss specialists, family medicine physicians, and cardiologists. Call 866-887-3999 to schedule an appointment.