There are multiple factors that contribute to heart disease. However, you can become an active participant in choosing heart health.
Know your numbers
Most risk factors for heart disease are silent. The American Heart Association recommends knowing your numbers at an early age.
Low vitamin D levels are common in all age groups and have been linked to high blood pressure and increased heart disease risk. Factors associated with lower levels include older age, female sex, obesity, lack of sun exposure and low milk intake. If you suspect you may have low vitamin D ask your doctor if you should have your level checked and if supplementation is needed.
Get your zzz's
Many Americans don't get enough sleep. If you don't get enough rest, you may be harming your heart. People who get good sleep are less likely to have heart failure and heart attacks. Improving sleep habits such as not eating a big meal or drinking alcohol right before bedtime, and trying to go to bed and get up at the same time every day can help you get better sleep and enhance heart health.
Take care of your teeth
Dental health and heart health go together. Poor dental health and gingivitis set the stage for chronic inflammation and increase heart disease risk. People who brush and floss more often and have excellent dental hygiene, actually have lower rates of heart disease.
Eat the Mediterranean way
Regularly eating fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, olive oil and only small amounts of poultry, fish and red meat improve heart and artery health.
Don't be a workaholic
Individuals working 11 or more hours per day are at a 67% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from heart disease than those working 8 hours per day. Although other factors are involved, knowing when to call it a day is a good way to love your heart.
Make your fats omega 3's
Your heart gets a load of benefits when you regularly include these fats in your diet. Omega 3 fats protect the heart by decreasing arrhythmias, blood clot formation, blood triglycerides, blood pressure and inflammation. Eat two 4 ounce servings of fish per week or supplement with fish oil and you reduce your risk of sudden death and heart disease.
Check your waist measure
Having excess fat in the mid-section is more harmful than fat elsewhere on the body. Abdominal fat increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. A waist measure of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women is too high and can signal that weight loss is needed.
Increase the soluble fiber in your diet and lower your bad cholesterol, which in turn lowers heart disease risk. Load up on oats, beans, dried peas, legumes and pectin-rich fruits and vegetables daily to get the heart healthy benefit of fiber.
Flexibility may be linked to the stiffness of your arteries. Arterial stiffness is associated with heart disease. Stretching, yoga and pilates may enhance the flexibility and function of your arteries.