Are you looking for ways to proactively reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease or reduce your risk of a repeat cardiovascular event? While we recommend that you have consistent appointments with a healthcare professional that is familiar with your specific health factors to stay on top of preventative care, we’re happy to share our top 6 tips on how you can improve your heart health in general!
A major cause of most heart conditions is a buildup of plaque in arteries over time (also known as atherosclerosis). This cardiovascular condition can be caused or worsened by various factors - many of which can be controlled with simple lifestyle changes. From your eating habits to your sleep patterns, there are many things that you can start doing today in order to improve your cardiovascular health.
1) Quit Smoking
One of the most critical things you can do to lower your cardiovascular risk is to stop smoking. Smoking is one of the major contributing factors to heart disease, and quitting can greatly reduce your risk factor over time even if you are a long-time smoker. And remember, it’s never too late to quit smoking!
Fortunately, there are many tips and resources that can help you to quit smoking. You can speak with your physician about quitting aids that can help you. You should also get rid of all cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters in order to avoid temptation. When the urge to smoke does arise, it’s important to acknowledge why - triggers such as stress or drinking coffee are the cause of most smoking urges. Recognizing your triggers and creating strategies to avoid them can help you create a successful plan to quit smoking permanently - improving your heart health along the way.
2) Drink More Water
Drinking more water and less caffeinated, alcoholic, and sugar-sweetened beverages helps to keep you hydrated, allowing your body to function at its best. Cutting out excess caffeine, alcohol, and sugar can help take unnecessary stress off of your heart and improve cardiovascular health.
Do you feel that the taste of plain water is too boring? You can always add a wedge of lemon, a few cucumbers, or berries for a nice twist and a fun kick of vitamins.
3) Get More Sleep
Adequate sleep is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system. Sleep allows your body to eliminate toxins that contribute to heart disease, lower stress levels, and improve overall bodily functions. If you struggle with insomnia or other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, it's important that you talk with your provider to find solutions that work for you. For most adults, a quality 7-8 hours of restful sleep will improve heart health, mood, and overall health.
4) Watch What You Eat
Another major step in cardiovascular care is taking a serious look at what you eat. Reducing salt, sugar, saturated fats, trans fats, and processed foods is a great first step. Try incorporating whole grains, lean meats - especially fish, and a variety of fruits and vegetables in place of more processed foods. When cooking, try using lemon, herbs, and seasonings in place of additional salt or sugar for a heart-healthy meal.
5) Start Exercising
Getting exercise on a regular basis is key in caring for your heart. Exercise helps to strengthen heart muscles and lower your stress levels. A good way to get into the habit of exercising is to find things you enjoy doing, such as a walk in the park with friends, a run with the dog, or some yoga before work.
Though the thought of exercise may seem overwhelming at first, making it part of your routine will allow you to be the healthiest and happiest version of yourself. You may even find a new heart-healthy hobby such as hiking, yoga, or morning walk!
6) Lower Stress
Decreasing your stress is key to maintaining your overall health and may also be linked to improvements in heart health. There are some small things you can change in your day that can help reduce stress significantly such as: socializing with peers in a relaxed setting, organizing your day to prevent rushing, and incorporating stress management techniques such as meditation. With less stress, you will feel better and incorporate heart-healthy patterns into your day.
Be Heart Smart at Voyage Healthcare
By making these six small changes to your daily routines, you will be able to make a positive change in your heart health and overall happiness! We also recommend that you make an appointment with a medical professional in order to fully assess your cardiovascular risk factors.
Are you currently searching for a Primary Care doctor? Our Family Medicine providers see patients at our Maple Grove, Osseo, Crystal, and Plymouth locations. Call (763) 587-7999 to schedule an appointment, or use our online appointment request form. We would be happy to have you as a patient!