06 Aug Tips for your heart
Your heart works hard for you nonstop for your whole life. So show it some TLC.
Even better? You don’t have to work on all of these steps at once. Even if you improve just one or two of these areas, you can make yourself less likely to get heart disease. Of course, the more tips on this list you can follow, the better. So let’s get started.
1. Aim for lucky number seven.
The next time you’re tempted to stay up later than you should, just think about how good that pillow will feel — and how good a full night’s sleep is for your heart. In one study, young and middle-age adults who slept 7 hours a night had less calcium in their arteries (an early sign of heart disease) than those who slept 5 hours or less or those who slept 9 hours or more.
2. Keep the pressure off.
That cuff squeezing your arm at every doctor’s visit is important. It measures the amount of pressure flowing through your arteries with every heartbeat.
If your blood pressure gets too high, the extra force can damage artery walls and create scar tissue, making it more difficult for blood and oxygen to get to and from the heart. The heart has to pump harder and gets worn out faster. If it can’t get enough oxygen, parts can start to die.
Cut back on salt, limit alcohol to no more than one to two drinks a day, manage your stress, and get regular exercise, too. If these changes alone don’t help, your doctor might recommend you also take medication.
3. Slash saturated fats.
Too much “bad” cholesterol can clog the heart and arteries with dangerous plaque.
It mostly comes from saturated and trans fats, found in red meat, full-fat dairy products, and fried or processed foods. So cut back on these products and cut out trans fats completely (check ingredients lists for anything that says “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” — those are trans fats).
Adults should get a cholesterol blood test at least every 5 years. Your doctor should consider your other risk factors for heart disease when deciding what your goals should be.
4. Sit less and sweat more.
You should get at least 150 minutes a week (30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) of moderate exercise, meaning any activity that gets you moving around and breaking a slight sweat. But really, every little bit counts.