The human heart is an amazing apparatus that supports life. In fact, the heart is responsible for just about everything inside your body that gives you life, which is why we need to treat it with respect.
During the typical lifespan, the human heart will beat around three billion times. That’s around 100,000 times a day. The heart pumps blood throughout the whole body by way of the circulatory system, to supply oxygen and essential nutrients to the body’s tissues, and to remove wastes that may do it harm.
Considering your heart health and taking care of your heart is extremely important since it is the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States.
- 1 in 3 deaths in the U.S. in 2013 were the result of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases
- Worldwide, heart disease was the #1 killer and stroke the #2 killer
- Each year approximately, 735,000 Americans have a heart attack, of those 525,000 are first-time heart attacks and 210,000 are second occurrences
- Smoking of cigarettes – about 19% of men and 15% of men still smoked in 2014, though rates of smokers have dropped since 1998
- Healthy diet – Numbers of people following a healthy diet increased about 0.7 to 1.5% in adults since 2003, in reality these numbers are pretty dismal
- Bodyweight – 160 million US adults and kids were overweight or obese between 2009 and 2012, of these 69% were adults and 32% were kids; 13 million or 17% had some level of obesity
- Cholesterol status – Approximately 43% of US adults had total cholesterol of at least 200 mg/dL or higher between 2009 and 2012
- Exercise – 1 in 3 Americans reported no physical activity during 2014
- Blood pressure status – approximately 80 million, or 33% of American adults had high blood pressure between 2009 and 2012
- Blood sugar – Type 2 diabetes is at epidemic levels, with 9% of Americans already diagnosed and 35% having pre-diabetes
There are many things you can do every day to support the health of your heart.
- Quit smoking—smoking is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. If you use other tobacco products or smoke, the American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Blood Institute all encourage you to stop. It can make a big difference to your heart as well as your overall health.
- Focus on your middle part—research into the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has connected excess belly fat to an unhealthy blood lipid level and higher blood pressure. If you are carrying extra fat around your belly, it is time to trim down. Exercising and eating fewer calories can make a huge difference.
- Knit a scarf—put your hands to work to reduce stress, and unwind your mind. Engaging in activities such as crocheting, knitting, and sewing can help you relieve stress and do your heart some good. Other relaxing hobbies, such as completing jigsaw puzzles, cooking, or woodworking are other relaxing hobbies that take the edge off your stress.
- Let music move you—whether you prefer a two-step tune or a rumba beat, dancing makes your heart better. Like other forms of exercise, it increases your heart rate and gets your legs going. It also burns up to 200 calories per hour, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Go fishing—eat a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can also get rid of heart disease. Many types of fish, such as herring, sardines, tuna, salmon, and halibut are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Try to eat fish at least twice a week, suggests the American Heart Association. If you’re worried about mercury in fish, you may be excited to learn that the heart benefits of fish tend to outweigh its risks.
- Laugh aloud—don’t just laugh aloud in Facebook posts or in emails. Laugh aloud in your daily life. Whether you like cracking jokes with your friends, watching funny movies, or cracking jokes with your loved ones, laughter can decrease the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, decreasing inflammation in your coronary arteries and can increase your levels of HDL (high-density lipoproteins, also known as “good cholesterol.”
- Stretch your muscles—yoga can help you improve your flexibility, strength, and balance. It can help you relieve stress and relax. Moreover, yoga has the ability to improve your heart health. According to scientific research published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, yoga has the potential to reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Drink more alcohol—moderate consumption of an alcoholic beverage can help you increase your high-density lipoprotein levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can drink red wine in particular as it may offer benefits that may help your heart. It doesn’t mean you should have alcohol at every meal. It just means that you can help prevent artery damage and blood clot formation.
- Skip the salt—If the entire US population reduced its mean salt intake to just a half teaspoon per day, it would significantly decrease the number of people who develop heart artery disease each year. Scientists have confirmed this at the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers suggest that salt is one of the leading causes of increased health care costs in the US. Processed foods tend to be particularly high in salt. Therefore, you need to think twice before eating a lot of fast food. Consider using some kind of salt substitute, such as potassium hydroxide.
- Exercise regularly—it doesn’t matter how much you weigh, sitting for long periods of time could decrease your lifespan. People who live desk jockey lifestyles or are couch potatoes suffer from unhealthy effects on blood sugar and blood fats. If you work at a desk, take regular breaks and move around a bit. Take a walk on your lunch breaks and eat your launch while walking.
- Keep track of your numbers—keeping track of your blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood sugar can help you maintain a healthy heart. Learn the optimal levels for your age group and sex. Take steps to maintain those levels, your doctor can tell you how. Remember to schedule regular checkups with your physician to stay on top of the numbers, and get regular checkups.
- Eat chocolate—eat dark chocolate. It is not only tasty but it contains heart-healthy flavonoids. These molecules help decrease your risk of heart disease, according to researchers at the Journal Nutrients. Eating low amounts of dark chocolate, not milk chocolate can actually be good for you. The next time you want to eat some sweets, eat a small square of dark chocolate. You don’t have to feel guilty about that.
- Do more housework—vacuuming or mopping up the floors may not be as intense as a Zumba class or a treadmill, nut it can help improve your heart health. They can burn calories while giving your heart a workout. Put on your favorite music and increase you’re your weekly chore activity.
- Eat some nuts—if you eat walnuts, almonds, and other tree nuts, you will get a lot of fiber, protein, and fats. Including them in your diet can help decrease your risk of heart disease. Remember that the serving size is small, suggests the American Heart Association. While nuts are full of heart-healthy stuff, they also have a lot of calories in them.
- Be a child—fitness doesn’t have to be a boring thing. Let your inner child take the lead by enjoying an evening of laser tag, bowling, or roller-skating. You can have fun while burning calories.
- Try pet therapy—pets offer more than unconditional love and good company. They also provide many health benefits. Studies reported by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) suggest that owning a pet may help improve your lung function and heart health. It may also help decrease your chances of having heart problems.
- Reduce unhealthy fat intake —slicing your saturated fat to less than 7% of your daily calories can decrease your risk of heart disease, according to the USDA. If you don’t read nutrition labels, consider starting today. Take stock of what you are eating and stay away from foods that are high in fat, particularly saturated fat.
- Take the scenic route home—forget the shortest, but traffic-congested route home and take the scenic route so you can enjoy your ride. Eliminating stress while driving can help you reduce your blood pressure and stress levels. That is something your heart will appreciate.
- Make some time for breakfast—the first meal of the day is most important. Eating a nutritious high fiber and high protein breakfast helps you to maintain a healthy weight and optimal levels of energy throughout the day. To build a heart-healthy meal, reach for fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, such as cheese, yogurt, or low-fat milk, lean protein sources, such as a small serving of nuts or peanut butter, and fiber found in whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole grain cereals, or whole-wheat toast.
- Take the stairs—exercise is crucial for good heart health, so why not sneak it in every chance you get. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park far away from the malls’ door so you can walk further. Walk over to a colleague’s desk to talk, instead of just emailing them. Take the kids to the park and run around. Play a sport every weekend instead of just sitting on the couch and watching TV or playing video games. Every little bit adds up to better heart health.