Your heart is an important muscle to your body.
A healthy heart keeps blood flowing freely throughout your body and keeps everything running smoothly. When your heart is not healthy, serious complications can arise. Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death in the United States. In people over 40 years of age, one in five will develop heart disease that may eventually lead to heart failure. However, there are many things you can do to ensure your heart is as healthy as possible.
Maintaining a healthy body weight is key to having a healthy heart. When you weigh more than you should, your heart must work harder to keep up with the demands of your body.
Being overweight increases a woman’s chance of heart disease by as much as 21 percent and men’s by 15 percent. One way to maintain a healthy body weight is to perform exercise most days of the week. Frequent bouts of moderate physical activity slashes heart disease in both men and women. Some good types of exercise are walking, swimming and cycling. Many people enjoy taking fitness classes such as Zumba to increase heart health and keep weight at normal limits.
Your diet may also help keep your heart healthy. Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables can provide important antioxidants that helps keep your body strong and healthy. Fish such as salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids that lower blood pressure and help keep your heartbeat from becoming irregular. Other good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are nuts and flaxseed.
Lifestyle choices are another important aspect of maintaining heart health. Smoking raises your risk of hardening of the arteries or athersclerosis, which also increases the risk of heart attacks. When you smoke, you also cause your heart to work harder to replace the carbon monoxide in your bloodstream with oxygen. Alcohol use should be kept to a minimum to avoid heart disease. Experts advise women to have no more than one alcoholic drink per day and men should have no more than 2. Consuming more alcohol than the recommended limits increases fats in the bloodstream and raises your blood pressure. These things put you at an increased risk for heart disease.
Taking steps early in life to promote heart health will help keep your heart healthy and strong. However, it is never too late to take better care of your heart. You can lower your risk of heart disease by quitting smoking, decreasing your alcohol consumption, sticking to a healthy diet and performing at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days a week.
by Alfred Judd
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