It pumps blood throughout your body, supplies oxygen and nutrients to every organ and removes metabolic wastes - it’s safe to say that your heart is responsible for doing some incredible things and that’s exactly why it’s so important to make sure it’s always the picture of health.

Although there are some risk factors of heart disease that can’t be controlled, there are still plenty of steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease, including:

  • Managing stress levels
  • Getting a good sleep
  • Cutting down on salt
  • Avoiding saturated fats
  • Eating more fish
  • Opting for clean food
  • Getting some exercise
  • Quitting smoking

See also: What is Cardiovascular Disease?


How to reduce risk of heart disease


A heart-healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to help reduce your risk of heart disease. Making some small lifestyle changes to your everyday life will help in boosting your heart health.


Manage stress levels


Whether it’s cramming for exams or trying to hit work deadlines - stress can sometimes get the better of us. When you begin to stress, it has the power to affect behaviours and factors that increase heart disease risk; namely smoking, physical inactivity and overeating [1].

For a healthier heart, try to manage your stress levels[2]; treat yourself how you would treat a friend and spend some time doing the things that make you smile!


Get a good sleep


Sleep is a vital component of everyone’s overall wellbeing - it allows our body to recharge and prepare for the day ahead. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity can be linked to a lack of sleep and as a result, your heart health[3].

That said, try to get at least 7 hours of good quality sleep each night[4].


Cut down on salt


If you’re eating too much salt, you’re not doing any favours to your heart. In fact, when you eat too much salt, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure - this can make it harder for blood and oxygen to get to and from your heart[5].

It’s recommended that adults eat less than 1,500 mg of salt per day (that’s less than 1 teaspoon!)[6] - keep an eye on salt levels in ready-made foods and make a habit of checking food labels.

See also: What Does High Cholesterol Mean?


Avoid saturated fats


Consuming too much food that’s high in saturated fat can raise the levels of cholesterol in your blood, tip your cholesterol balance towards high LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol) and may lead to the formation of blockages in your vessels [7].

So, the next time you’re shopping for your groceries - opt for lean meat, plenty of fruit and vegetables and fat-free or reduced-fat milk to avoid consuming unnecessary saturated fats.

See also: Good and Bad Cholesterol Explained


Eat more fish


The omega 3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat that is present in fish. These fatty acids are known for decreasing triglycerides - a type of fat found in your blood, reducing blood pressure and reducing irregular heartbeats - each of which are more than positive for your heart health! [8].

Fatty fish such as sardines, cod, herring and light tuna are all a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.


Opt for clean food


Think of your heart like your car - it works best when it runs on clean fuel. This means you should place emphasis on whole, plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds for optimum heart health[9].

One of the fastest ways to clean up your diet? Cut out fruit flavoured sugary drinks and indulge in some fresh fruit instead!

See also: 6 Surprising Foods That Cause High Cholesterol


Get some exercise


Exercise can act as a mood booster and reduce stress levels - two things which can have major effects on your heart health [10].

Harvard Medical School says to look at exercise as “an insurance policy that may offer both short- and long-term protection for your heart”[9]; so get those sneakers on and fit some moderate exercise into your day to day routine - your heart will thank you!


Quit smoking


Smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease. A year after giving up, your risk of a heart attack can fall to about half that of a smoker [11].

Nobody said quitting was easy but the positive effects quitting smoking has on your heart and your overall health will give you the motivation you need!

See also: What Happens When You Quit Smoking?


Are you considered about your heart health? LetsGetChecked’s at-home Cholesterol Test can indicate your risk of developing cardiovascular (heart) disease by looking at the amount of fat in your blood - early detection will provide for better clinical outcomes and allow you to make positive lifestyle changes.

You should consider taking the test if:

  • You have a strong family history of heart disease
  • You have a first-degree relative who has suffered a heart attack, cardiac stents, a stroke or has undergone bypass surgery
  • You are overweight or obese
  • You drink alcohol and smoke frequently
  • You lead a sedentary lifestyle
  • You suffer from diabetes, kidney disease, polycystic ovary syndrome or an underactive thyroid gland


References

  1. American Heart Association. Stress and heart health. Online: heart.org, 2014
  2. D. Bhatt. “Stress” cardiomyopathy: A different kind of heart attack. Online: health.harvard.edu, 2019.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How does sleep affect your heart health? Online: cdc.gov, 2018.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How does sleep affect your heart health? Online: cdc.gov, 2018.
  5. American Heart Association. Get the Scoop on Sodium and Salt. Online: heart.org, 2018
  6. American Heart Association. How much sodium should I eat per day? Online: heart.org, 2018
  7. Harvard Medical School. The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between. Online: health.harvard.edu, 2019
  8. Mayo Clinic Staff. Omega-3 in fish: How eating fish helps your heart. Online: mayoclinic.org, 2019
  9. Mayo Clinic Staff. The power of a plant-based diet for heart health. Online: mayoclinic.org, 2019
  10. Harvard Medical School. The many ways exercise helps your heart. Online: health.harvard.edu, 2018
    11. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Online: niddk.nih.gov, 2017