1. Stay active
Ensuring that you stay active or even start becoming active is important for heart health as exercise can significantly reduce your risk of developing heart diseases, not to mention exercise is a great stress buster. The NHS prescribes a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise every week which works out to about 20 minutes of exercise a day. Even just 20 minutes of brisk walking a day could burn 700 calories a week and reduce the risk of heart diseases by 30 to 40%. Take 20 minutes off of your day to exercise, relax and focus on yourself!
2. Sleep more
You may feel fine running on 5-6 hours of sleep a night but sleep is when your body recovers, reboots and rejuvenates itself. Sleep is important for all parts of your body, not just your heart – for instance, it is when all your cells repair themselves and reproduce. Further, while you are asleep, your heart rate and blood pressure reduce thus giving your heart a break.
Lack of sleep has been associated with craving high-calorie foods, those high in saturated fats, or other unhealthy foods and therefore makes it harder for you to make healthy food choices and maintain a balanced diet.
3. Increase the amount of fish in your diet
Besides maintaining a balanced diet, increase your intake of fish to at least twice a week. Diets high in omega-3 help prevent the development of heart diseases as they contain high levels of healthy, unsaturated fatty acids. According to a study conducted at Stanford University, fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies can reduce the risk of heart attacks by up to 10%.
4. Cut down your consumption of salt
Salt is one of the leading drivers of high blood pressure and heart failure. Diets high in salt levels result in high blood pressure which puts extra strain on your arteries. In order to deal with higher blood pressure, the arteries’ muscles strengthen and become thicker. However, this makes the space inside the arteries smaller and results in even higher blood pressure. Thus, the amount of blood that reaches the heart through the arteries slightly reduces and can result in heart pain.
5. Drink less alcohol
Moderate amounts of alcohol can help raise levels of HDL, your ‘good cholesterol’, and can help prevent blood clot formation and artery damage. However, moderation is key as well as the type of alcohol, red wine is ideal.
6. Stop smoking
Smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease besides the number of other health risks associated with smoking. Smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack due to the fact that smoking damages your arteries, reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood (making your heart pump harder to supply your body with oxygen), raises your blood pressure, and makes your blood more likely to clot thus further increasing your risk of a heart attack.