05 Jan Make New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Your Heart Health
It’s the time of year when we make new year’s resolutions to do better. As you think about the promises you’ll make to yourself for 2017, why not put your cardiac health first? After all, when you put your health first, not only are you doing something for yourself, but you’re helping your loved ones, too. They’ll be overjoyed to see you become healthier, happier and more active.
Making a new year’s resolution to improve your health, of course, is a very personal process but here are some options you may want to consider.
Smokers have a higher risk of developing many chronic disorders, including atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can lead to coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Controlling or reversing atherosclerosis is an important part of preventing future heart attack or stroke. Read more about the harmful effects of smoking.
Improve your diet; manage your weight
Studies have shown that eating a diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids (often found in fish) is helpful for preventing heart disease. Conversely, foods containing lots of sugar or salt should be avoided. Stay away from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and an excess of alcohol. Watch calories and try to keep your weight to a normal range for your age and gender. You can use simple online calculators to calculate your body mass index (BMI).
Get your blood pressure under control
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a silent killer and can cause increased stress on your cardiovascular system and contribute to heart disease and stroke. If you have high blood pressure, work with your healthcare provider to lower your blood pressure through diet, regular exercise, weight management, and avoiding stress and smoking. You can also lower blood pressure by limiting salt intake and alcohol consumption. If you have been prescribed blood pressure medications, take them as directed.
Monitor and control your blood sugar
Compared with people who do not have diabetes, diabetics are 2 to 3 times more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke. People with diabetes also have heart attacks at a younger age, and these heart attacks are more severe and more deadly. Plus, people with diabetes are much more likely to get kidney disease, vision and eye problems including blindness and nerve damage as well as loss of toes or fingers or limbs due to circulation and nerve problems.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are “silent killers” that can only be detected by simple tests in their early stages. There are many cheap options to get these basic tests. Get yourself checked at least once a year with your doctor especially if you have a family history of any of these conditions.
Selecting and committing to a new year’s resolution to improve your cardiac health is not an easy undertaking. Each requires extreme diligence and the ability to dig deep and persevere. But the reward of a longer and more happily lived life is more than enough reason to expend the effort.
Just ask your family.