Your heart.

It begins beating before you’re even born, and if you’re lucky, it continues to beat – nonstop – for many, many years.

While nearly all hearts are created equal, a lot can change over the course of a lifetime. How you treat your heart will drastically affect its ability to take care of you.

There are steps you can take to help keep your heart pumping efficiently.

Eat right

 

If you must eat fats, try to avoid trans fats. Those are the pesky fats often used for making margarine, pre-packaged snack cakes, and many fried items from your local fast food restaurant. These fats raise bad cholesterol (and lower good cholesterol) which clogs arteries and increases your chances for heart attack and stroke.
Instead, treat yourself to healthier fat options by enjoying foods like avocados, cheese, eggs, fatty fish, nuts, chia seeds, extra virgin olive oil, and even dark chocolate.

Sleep right

 

Sleep is often underestimated. A little known fact is that there is such a thing as “too much sleep.” The magic number for hours of sleep seems to hover around seven. Studies have shown that those who get around seven hours of sleep per night are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who sleep fewer than six hours, or even those who sleep more than eight hours.

The type of sleep you get is also important. If you’re a restless sleeper, you won’t reap the benefits of those seven hours. Check with your doctor if you have trouble sleeping, and to rule out problems like sleep apnea. At bedtime, enjoy a nice warm caffeine-free beverage, lower the lights, and avoid stimulants such as television, computer, or even your smartphone. Adopting these habits help you to settle in for a long, deep sleep each night.

 

Get moving

 

Activity does not have to mean hitting the gym. Being active can be a part of your everyday life, although you might have to make a few adjustments to make it happen.

 

Inactivity, such as sitting for too long is not only bad for your activity level, it can increase your chances of having a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a blood clot in your leg. A DVT can break away and become lodged in your lungs or brain. These events are often fatal, and can be prevented by getting up periodically and moving around. This is also a good strategy for long car rides or international flights.

But back to increasing your daily activity levels. You can take control. For instance, even if you have a job that keeps you sitting at a desk all day, you can adopt habits that help you get in the extra steps and activity. Try these five alternatives:

 

  1. Park farther away from the entrance to work so you can get in extra steps walking to and from your care.
  2. Take breaks from your desk to move around, and/or use a standing work station to stay on your feet.
  3. Replace elevator rides with taking the stairs.
  4. Try taking a short walk before or after dinner, gradually increasing the distance you walk over time.
  5. You can even stop at the market for groceries each evening instead on one trip on the weekend. Not only will you get more steps into your day, you are more likely to buy only the food you need for meals, reduce the amount of wasted food at home, and eat fresher, too!

Avoid first and second-hand smoke

 

For starters, if you don’t smoke, make it a point to never start. If you smoke, try to quit. It’s easier said than done, that is true, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. There are a number of programs out there to help people stop smoking. Talk to your doctor about your options if you’d like to quit.

It’s important to avoid second-hand smoke, as it can be more dangerous than you think. Some estimates show that your risk of heart attack or stroke rises over 30% in those who are exposed to second-hand smoke. Also, be sure to keep your children away from second-hand smoke as well. You might as well get them started on a lifetime of healthy heart habits.

 

The one habit that is critical to heart health

 

Taking steps to live a heart healthy life is commendable, but there is one thing every person needs to do to keep on the right track for the health of their heart. That one thing is having an annual visit with a doctor. Seeing a doctor on a regular basis to keep tabs on cholesterol levels, blood pressure is another important element. Seeing a doctor annually to have a health professional give you a once over for signs they might see that could be invisible to you could literally be a lifesaver.

 

We understand how critical that annual visit can be. That’s why the Community Care program at HOPE Healthcare Services makes medical care available for people without healthcare insurance.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to take care of their health. Don’t fret, contact HOPE Healthcare Services at 317-272-0708 for more information.