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6 Steps to Help Keep Your Heart Healthy

Stethoscope with a red heart in front of it.

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It’s no secret that keeping your heart healthy is vital to your overall health. And, unfortunately, heart disease, according to the CDC, kills 610,000 people every year, making it the #1 cause of death for men and women in the United States.

Thus, it is very important that you make your heart health a focus in your everyday life.

Discover the top things you can do to keep your heart healthy and strong.

1. Stay away from secondhand smoke.

Clearly, smoking is terrible for your heart, but what is underplayed is how bad secondhand smoke is for you. According to studies done, secondhand smoke takes the number three spot for preventable deaths in the U.S. To put this more in perspective, the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation shared this: “For every eight smokers the tobacco industry kills, it takes one nonsmoker with them.”

You’re up to 30% more likely to develop heart disease if you spend time at home or work around secondhand smoke. And that increases if you are already suffering from high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

lit cigarette

Thus, make it a priority to not allow smoking in your home or near you at work — your future self will thank you.

2. Get plenty of sleep.

According to Harvard Medical School, “an ongoing sleep deficit can ultimately endanger your heart health.” And a deficit is considered anything less than six hours a night. Even just one night of bad sleep can really affect you. So, think about night after night getting less sleep than your body needs.

There’s no denying that we all struggle with sleeping from time to time, but if it becomes a regular occurrence in your life, then you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing. Are you staying up too late? Are you drinking coffee too late in the day? Is your bedroom too bright? Too hot? These, and many other factors, should be taken into consideration if your sleep is struggling.

3. Find ways to manage your stress.

Harvard Medical School published an article about the link between heart health and stress, and though the line connecting the two isn’t as scientifically defined as one may think, it’s hard to deny that stress does lead to heart problems.

First of all, the article states it is possible that stress triggers inflammation, which is a big part of heart disease. In addition, “often people turn to comfort foods — like pizza, pie, and cookies — when they’re stressed. These high-fat, high-cholesterol foods contribute to the artery damage that causes heart attacks and strokes.”

Stress can also cause people to drink and smoke, which are undeniably damaging to your heart health,

4. Eat the right fats.

Fats are one of the most misunderstood macronutrients. There are different kinds of fats but you’ve heard a lot about trans fat — the bad cholesterol (LDL). Trans fat is known to be bad for your heart, as it increases your chances of developing heart disease.

As stated by the Mayo Clinic, “trans fat raises your LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, and lowers your HDL (‘good’) cholesterol.”

Here are the main foods you should aim to stay away from:

  • Chips and other snacks
  • Fried foods
  • Pastries and cookies

Don’t avoid all fats — your body needs them to survive. Just be picky about what fats you eat and make sure they’re the good ones.

mother and daughter making a smoothie

5. Avoid being sedentary too much.

As we’ve discussed before, a sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading causes of vein issues, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that a sedentary lifestyle is also damaging to your heart.

A study discussed in a Johns Hopkins Medicine article shared that “even after adjusting for physical activity, sitting for long periods was associated with worse health outcomes including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Sedentary behavior can also increase your risk of dying, either from heart disease or other medical problems.”

So, while your 30 minutes of exercise is a great start, that doesn’t give you a free pass to sit the rest of the time. It is key that you remain active throughout the day. You may have a job that requires you to stay at a desk or in the same place for 8 hours a day, and that is out of your control. What you can control, however, is getting up every hour and taking a short walk, doing some stretching, or finding a way to set up your office so that you can stand and work for a bit.

6. Make physical activity a regular occurrence.

Along the same lines as above, it is crucial for your heart that you get in daily exercise. No, you don’t need to run a marathon, but you do need to get moving regularly to keep your heart healthy and happy.

According to John Hopkins Medicine, there are three different types of exercise that you should be incorporating into your life.

The first is aerobic. “Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate.”

Here are some aerobic exercises you can get into:

  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Speed walking

Second, strength training. “Resistance training has a more specific effect on body composition . . . [and] for people who are carrying a lot of body fat, it can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass.”

Here are some strength training exercises you can get into:

  • Dumbbell workouts
  • Weight machines
  • Resistance bands
  • Push-ups

And the third is stretching, balance, and flexibility. “Flexibility workouts, such as stretching, don’t directly contribute to heart health. What they do is benefit musculoskeletal health, which enables you to stay flexible and free from joint pain, cramping, and other muscular issues.”

Here are some stretching exercises you can do:

  • Tai chi
  • Yoga
  • Pilates

two women at a yoga class

By keeping the six above things in-check, you will be giving your heart a boost in the right direction. With minimal effort and attention to your heart, your heart will stay in good shape, and your veins will reap the benefits.

If you ever feel like your vein health may be off track, contact Vein Clinics of America. Our team of vein specialists are the top in the industry and will help you get your vein health back to where it should be.

Learn more about our minimally-invasive treatment options.

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Satish Vayuvegula
Dr. Satish Vayuvegula is the National Medical Director at Vein Clinics of America. Certified by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine, Dr. Satish Vayuvegula is recognized as a physician who has met rigorous standards of knowledge and extensive training in phlebology, the diagnosis and treatment of varicose vein disease and related disorders. Dr. Satish also shares his passion and expertise by serving as a board member of the American Vein and Lymphatic Society, the predominant national organization for venous and lymphatic disease.

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