heart diseaseWhile you search for the best Valentine’s gift for your sweetheart, why not start with a gift for your own heart? February is American Heart Health Month. There’s no better time to start working towards a healthy heart than right now. Heart disease can happen at any age, so it’s important to practice positive lifestyle habits to maintain good heart health. That goes for everyone, from children and teens to adults and seniors.

What Conditions and Habits Lead to Heart Disease?

High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure can cause the walls of the lower heart chamber to become stiff. This can prevent your heart from pumping enough blood for your body to function properly.

High Blood Cholesterol: People with high cholesterol have twice the risk of heart disease than those with normal cholesterol levels. If your LDL cholesterol levels are too high, LDL particles can stick to the walls of your arteries and eventually clog them.

Obesity: Obesity can trigger inflammation of your cardiovascular system. This can actually change the structure of your heart and the way it functions. Being overweight is usually accompanied by conditions that put your heart at risk like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides.

Smoking: Smoking causes plaque to build up in the arteries that supply blood to your heart. This plaque build-up, called atherosclerosis, can lead to a heart attack. Additionally, when you smoke, your arteries tighten, which makes your heart work harder.

Diabetes: Diabetes causes an unhealthy accumulation of sugar in the blood. This can wind up damaging blood vessels and nerves that help regulate your heart.

Poor Eating: Diets high in salt, saturated fat, trans fat, and processed sugars put you at high risk for heart disease.

How Can I Prevent Heart Disease?

Stay Active: Even just 3 hours per week of exercise or vigorous activity can help lower your risk of heart disease.

Eat heart-healthy foods: Your diet should consist mostly of heart-healthy foods. Fruits and vegetables should make up the majority of your plate. You should only have about 3-5 ounces of meat, eggs, or poultry a day.

Avoid smoking: Absolutely nothing good comes out of smoking. Just one day after quitting smoking, you’ve already decreased your risk for heart attack because of the increased oxygen to your heart and reduced constriction of your arteries.

Looking for low impact exercises to get your heart pumping while avoiding too much pressure on your joints? Try some of these exercises on Hospitality Health ER’s blog.