5 healthy habits to shape your heart health

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February is American Heart Month. There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing heart disease or experiencing dangerous heart-related health issues, such as a heart attack or stroke. Some of them include your lifestyle, age, family history or presence of key risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

Developing a healthy lifestyle by taking care of your mental health and wellbeing, ensuring you are getting enough sleep, managing stress, not smoking, staying active and eating healthy are all behaviors that can decrease your risk of a serious heart condition. By adopting healthier lifestyle habits, individuals can learn to incorporate small, but powerful, changes into their day-to-day routines that can help decrease their risk of heart disease, improve overall health and increase longevity. The CDC states that living a healthier lifestyle can help you lower your blood pressure and cholesterol level and ultimately lower your risk for heart disease.

Living a longer, healthier life starts with taking care of your heart. OptumCare have outlined five healthy habits that can be implemented today that can improve not only the heart but whole-body health. Two of the most common serious cardiovascular issues are heart attack and stroke. It’s important to understand the warning signs of both, as well as understand the differences in warning signs depending on your gender.

Keep a gratitude journal

By taking a few minutes out of every day to acknowledge what or who you are grateful for, you can tap into positive emotions which are linked to greater wellbeing. Try writing the things you are grateful for in a journal or even expressing them out loud to a friend or family member.

Find support

Some old habits are especially hard to break, especially smoking, which is a major cause of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke. In fact, according to the CDC, one in every four deaths from cardiovascular diseases is caused by smoking. If you are ready to quit, asking a friend or a family member for support may help. The person supporting you can help you stay positive, celebrate your successes and aid in changing your daily routine, such as going on an evening walk instead of an after-work cigarette.

Move more

Any physical activity is better than none, so it can be helpful to choose an activity that you enjoy, such as biking, yoga, walking, swimming or tennis. Even small changes to your routine, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away from the door when you visit the grocery store can make a difference. Stay motivated to be active by doing the activity with a friend or your dog. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), regular moderate to vigorous physical activity reduces heart disease by 30 to 40 percent and stroke by 25 percent.

Spice it up

Sodium is a mineral that we all need, but too much sodium intake from the foods we eat can lead to an increase blood pressure – and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration dietary guidelines recommend limiting sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams per day (about 1 teaspoon) and substitute salt with flavorful

Floss daily

Practicing good dental hygiene, especially flossing your teeth daily, can contribute to your overall health and heart health specifically, according to the AHA. Many studies have shown that bacteria in the mouth involved in the development of gum disease can move into the blood stream and cause an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. This elevation may increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. So, brush and floss daily, not only for fresh breath, but for your heart health too.

Two of the most common serious cardiovascular issues are heart attack and stroke. It’s important to understand the warning signs of both, as well as understand the differences in warning signs depending on your gender. Know your risk factors and maintain or develop healthy behaviors.

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