One of the leading causes of death in the United States is heart disease. This is mainly due to a lack of commitment to a heart-healthy lifestyle.  While you can’t change certain risk factors such as family history, sex or age, looking into heart and vascular care with a physician can prevent your risk of getting a heart attack. Changing your habits and choosing a healthy lifestyle is also your best defense against heart disease and stroke.

You can do a lot to lower your odds of getting heart disease. Taking action will improve your health and in turn, can possibly save your life.

To get started we list the following preventative ways for boosting your heart health below:

Stop smoking

If you are a smoker, it might be time to rethink the impact it will have on your overall health and wellbeing. A smoker is more than twice likely to have a heart attack as non-smokers. The chances of dying from a heart attack are high. If someone in your household smokes, it is important that you convince or encourage them to quit. It may be a hard process in the beginning but it is difficult to recover from a heart attack, stroke or live with chronic heart disease. Consult with your doctor on the best way to go about it, because you can reduce the risks significantly even in the first year of quitting.

Change your eating habits

Start consuming foods that are low in fat and cholesterol. Add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains beans, nuts, legumes, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like fresh tuna and herring.  Fiber will counteract with cholesterol. Eating healthy will let you absorb vitamins in a natural way. Minimize your salt, saturated fats, sweets and red meats like beef and pork. Poultry can still be good for you as long as you control your portions and consume lean meat. Avoid foods with preservatives, trans fats, or hydrogenated ingredients. A well-balanced diet is a beneficial way to get all the nutrients your body needs.

Check your blood pressure

More than 100 million people in America have high blood pressure, making it the most prevailing cause of heart disease. Exercise regularly and eat healthily. Cutting down on salt intake can also effectively lower your blood pressure. If your doctor recommends maintenance medication, take it religiously. A favorable blood pressure reading should be less than 120/80. If you snore every night and feel exhausted the next day, it is recommended to get tested for sleep apnoea. This can help manage your blood pressure levels.

Stay active

Individuals who stay inactive and do not exercise are more likely to get heart disease and die from a heart attack than people who exercise and stay active on a regular basis.  Always consult with your doctor before venturing into a new exercise plan, especially if you have not been active in the past. Work your way slowly into an exercise regime, by hitting the treadmill at your nearest gym. If you like the outdoors, start walking around your neighborhood or go for a swim. Do an activity that you enjoy and best fits your body’s needs. Regular exercise can help prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure and improve your cholesterol.

Don’t stress yourself

Studies have noted a correlation between heart disease and stress. People who lose their temper quickly or who are under a lot of stress may compensate for overeating or smoking more than others. Stay social and have a good support group of friends and family. When stress and your temper flare up often this could lead to problems in the future. Take charge of your life and how you react to certain situations. Practicing yoga and meditation can help keep you calm and deal with the daily challenges that life throws.

Watch your blood sugar

Consuming too much sugar can damage and affect your arteries. This can happen with people who are borderline diabetic or for those who already have diabetes. Other risk factors for a person with existing diabetes to develop a cardiovascular disease are having a combination of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, no exercise, and obesity. Consult with your physician to control your blood sugar levels. Keeping your blood sugar at a healthy number will lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

Keep a healthy weight

Obesity is very prevalent in America, not only in adults but also for young children.  Control your calorie intake, choose a balanced and heart-friendly diet and combine it with some form of physical exercise to maintain a healthy weight. Being obese places a person at risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. Consult with a physician, a dietician, and a fitness trainer to help you take control of your weight.

Limit your alcohol intake

Drinking too much alcohol can raise a person’s blood pressure, increase your chances of stroke, cancer, and other diseases. It can also lead to higher triglycerides and palpitations or irregular heartbeats. Extreme alcohol intake contributes to alcohol dependency, obesity, and untoward accidents and depression. However, moderate consumption of alcohol has cardioprotective properties. Limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

In closing, making a lifestyle change can be overwhelming. Look into where you can start to make a significant impact on heart disease risk reduction, and follow through with the changes, one day at a time.