Small changes = Big results
The heart beats about 2.5 billion times over the average lifetime, pushing millions of gallons of blood to every part of the body 1. The heart never rests, helping with oxygen, energy, and more even when you sleep.
However, sometimes we can take advantage of this powerhouse, running it down with poor eating habits, lack of exercising, smoking, or other lifestyle habits. On top of that, genetics or infections can also cause a strain on your heart.
Statistics and other data courtesy of CDC. 2
Luckily, there are things you can do to give your heart a hand: easy, simple things that can extend the longevity of your heart, and in turn your well-being. Don’t think that you have to make big changes to have an effect on your heart health. Even small, basic steps can have dramatic effects.
Change your Eating Habits
Changing your eating habits can be challenging, but adjusting your diet to include heart-healthy options can be enjoyable and extremely beneficial.
Control your portions.
Even if your food is delicious, eating until you’re stuffed can be problematic for your health. Stick to single, small portions, eat slowly and mindfully, savoring your bites! Wait at least 30 minutes 3 to see if you’re still hungry before taking more. Your stomach needs a while to send the “Hey, I’m full!” signal to your brain.
It takes practice eating well intuitively and mindfully. Don’t hesitate to use measuring utensils until you get the hang of it!
Foods to avoid:
Coconut, fried or breaded foods, canned fruits or vegetables, white refined flour, pastries, gravy, lard, whole milk, high fat/high sodium meats
Foods to try:
Whole fruits, fresh/frozen vegetables, whole wheat and whole grains, oatmeal, high fiber cereals, olive oil, avocados, lean ground meats, legumes, fish
Don’t consider it a diet. Experiment and see what heart-healthy foods you enjoy the most so you don’t feel deprived.
Sleep and keeping your stress levels low are essential in keeping your heart at its best.
When you’re stressed, your body goes into overdrive. Your body releases adrenaline, which causes your heart rate and blood pressure to spike. With constant stressors, your body stays under strain for longer periods. The problem comes when the stress from overeating, sleeping little/too much, drinking, or smoking puts a strain on your heart. 5
Some suggestions to help relax 6:
- Limit your vices, such as smoking or drinking
- Learn to say “no”
- Set realistic goals and expectations for yourself
- Engage in therapy or counseling
- Listen to music
- Listen to when your body needs a break
- Write your feelings down
It can be hard to break the pattern of stress, but it will give your body a chance to recover, which will allow you to better take on the world.
And get some rest.
Sleep deprivation heightens the risk of heart attacks. Sleep helps the heart slow down and recover, and a lack of sleep can throw off the balance of your sleep stages, both of which increase your heart attack risk.
Statistics and other data courtesy of PubMed. 7
Tips for a restful slumber 8:
- Turn off all of your electronics
- Hide your alarm clock, or dim the light on it
- Keep good sleep posture by putting a pillow under (back sleeper) or between your legs (side sleeper)
- Avoid caffeine during the day
- Lower the lights 30-60 mins before bed
- Try using a white noise machine to block sound
- Wash your sheets often to keep pet hair, dust, dander, and other allergens off your bed
- If you don’t have any sensitivities, try aromatherapy by using gentle scents such as lavender to help your sleep.
- Sleep medications, such as Eszopiclone, Zaleplon, or Zolpidem may be prescribed if your sleep issues are severe. Ask your doctor for more information.
Love it or hate it, exercise is crucial to your heart health. But it doesn’t have to be a hassle or take up much time at all.You can have a huge increase in heart health by going from a fully sedentary lifestyle (not exercising at all) to getting your heart rate up for an hour each week. That’s right:Just 10 minutes of exercise/ 6x a week will dramatically improve your heart health. 9
But don’t stop there!
Once you’ve gotten a feel for exercise, you should keep it up! The American HeartAssociation recommends aiming for 150 mins (2 1/2 hours) a week of moderate to high-intensity exercise. The important thing is to get your heart rate up to your target heartrate during that time. 10 To get a better idea of what your ideal target heart rate when exercising is, check out heart.org.
What exercises are considered moderate to high intensity?
- Brisk walking/Jogging
- Taking the stairs 11
Get up and move!
Even if you exercise for an hour, experts agree that moving throughout the day is paramount. Take the stairs, go for a walk during your lunch break, park a little further from the store to increase your walk time. The important thing is to get out of your seat and move that body!
When in doubt, talk to your doctor.
If you have other conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, or high cholesterol, you can start with low to moderate activity without any concern. Of course, if you have current symptoms such as numbness in the hands or feet or chest pain, see your doctor before doing any activity to see what the best routine is for you.If you’ve had a heart attack or have heart disease, the above tip is all the more essential. In addition to the above, your doctor may prescribe you medications such as 12:
This is not an exhaustive list, and these drugs may come under different names depending on what your doctor prescribes you. GeniusRx can work alongside your pharmacist to help you receive your diabetes medication and assist with any additional questions you may have.
Take healthy changes to heart.
Together with you and your doctor, GeniusRx is here to help you along your journey with heart health. We offer FDA-approved medications that can help you treat your heart diseases, all with fast local delivery to your home.