Despite the increase in people getting proactive about their health, heart disease continues to be one of the leading causes of death in the United States. While most people know to take preventative measures like eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising, beyond that, they’re not aware of the lifestyle changes that may be necessary to sustain good heart health. Below, is a look at some things you’ll need to change to take better care of your heart.

Smoking Cigarettes

Smoking is a bad habit to break but is also one of the leading causes of heart disease in both smokers and non-smokers. When you smoke your heart rate increases, the arteries tighten, and the heartbeat becomes irregular. This puts a strain on the heart unnecessarily which can cause problems. Smoking cigarettes also increase your blood pressure which can increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

There are several methods that you can try to quit smoking. You can go cold turkey and prepare yourself for the withdrawal symptoms. You can talk to your doctor to receive a prescription for a patch or medication to help relieve nicotine cravings. You can also try vaping and weaning yourself off of tobacco products by purchasing lesser grades of nicotine vape juices. Just be sure you’ve checked vaping regulations in your state to ensure it is legal.

Sitting All Day

From sitting for 8 hours at an office desk to coming home and binge-watching television, many people do not incorporate much physical activity into their lifestyles. It may not have an impact at first, but sitting all day has a negative impact on your heart health. When you’re sitting all day, your blood flow decreases and your body doesn’t process fats properly, these things can both lead to heart disease over time.

You have to find ways to get up and get moving. If you work in an office, get up and walk around during your breaks, park further from the entrance and walk, or request a standing desk. At home, try to incorporate physical activity. Whether it’s taking the dog to the park after dinner or doing a bit of yoga in the mornings before work, you need to get at least an hour of physical activity 5 days a week into your routines.

Too Much Stress

Stress is a normal part of life and your body’s natural response to the pressure. That being said, too much stress can put significant strain on your heart. When the body is under stress your blood pressure rises and your heart rate increases. After a while, this can cause damage to blood vessels in the heart increasing your chances for a heart attack.

Though life can get stressful at times, it is important to learn how to manage it. When you feel stressed, find ways of coping. Meditate for a few minutes, go for a walk, take a nap, go on vacation, treat yourself to lunch, or work out. Whatever is going to help boost those spirits will lower cortisol and adrenaline levels which can help prevent heart disease. If necessary, seeing a therapist can also help you in relieving unresolved stress.

Improper Sleep

Sleep is vital to your entire body. When you’re resting, it gives your body a chance to go to work in replenishing itself for the next day. Your heart, for example, works very hard on a regular basis, so it needs to rest. The fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rate associated with a good night’s rest are said to improve your cardiovascular health and prevent disease or strokes.

Getting the right amount of sleep each night is easier said than done. You have a lot of things to get done that can tie you up from getting your rest. There are also the things you stress about that can keep you awake at night. Lastly, your sleep environment can impact how much sleep you get. Start by trying to simplify your schedule so that you can develop a proper bedtime routine. Then, work on creating a comfortable sleeping environment so you can get some rest.

Your heart is an essential organ that keeps blood pumping throughout your body. When it is not well taken care of, it can begin to cause problems in other areas of your health. The best thing you can do besides eating right and exercise is to quit bad habits and utilize tips like those discussed above to improve and/or maintain good heart health.

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