The Center for Disease Control estimates that 610,000 people die from heart disease each year, and that half of Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol or smoking. On the heels of American Heart Health Month, now is a great time to assess your risk factors and take small steps to improve your heart health. Check out these tips:
Tip #1: Quit Smoking
If you still smoke, you’ve heard it all before. But quitting can make a difference in your heart health in less than 24 hours. This cool video from Buzzfeed Health illustrates the differences in your body after you quit.
Tip #2: Get Some Sleep
Going to sleep earlier will make your morning a little more pleasant, but did you know it can also have long-term health-benefits? A Cleveland Clinic study evaluated 3,000 adults over the age of 45 and found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack compared to those who slept six to eight hours per night. The people who slept less than six hours per night tend were also at a greater risk for high blood pressure, high blood sugar, inflammation and obesity.
Tip #3: Make Small Changes
Being overweight or obese increases your risk for heart disease. By making small changes to your daily schedule, you can lose weight and help your heart. The Surgeon General recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Incorporating bike rides, brisk walks or gym classes into your daily life can help you get into a healthy routine. Another way to lose weight and help your heart is to replace trans fats with healthy fats. Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels, and it increases your risk of developing heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
Tip #4: Floss Your Teeth
Dental hygiene is a well-kept secret of heart health. While dental health has always been a good indicator of overall health, gum disease can be a stepping stone to heart disease. Bacteria in the mouth involved in the development of gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. These changes may in turn increase your risk of heart disease or stroke.
Tip #5: Talk to Your Doctor
Being proactive about your health can help save you money, pain and stress down the road. If you want to make sure you’re on the right track to heart health, the best way to start is by visiting your doctor and setting realistic goals.
While it may take some time, making small changes and setting short-term, achievable goals is a great way to motivate you to a healthier heart. We’ll help you on your journey to better health by providing great savings on the prescriptions that you and your family use every day.
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