Researchers have identified seven behaviors that are good for your heart and may help you live a longer life. However, a new study found that less than 2% of Americans are practicing these behaviors.
Researchers studied the behaviors of 44,959 adults, ages 20 and older, who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1988 and 1994, 1999 and 2004, and 2005 and 2010, and the NHANES III Linked Mortality File.
The results indicated that only 2% of participants from 1988 to 1994 and 1.2% of participants from 2005 to 2010 followed the seven healthy habits that were determined to be optimal for heart health and longevity.
The small percentage of participants who did practice all seven of the healthy habits had a 76% lower risk of dying from a heart-related cause and a 51% lower risk of death from any cause, according to WebMD. (This is in comparison to the risk of death in people who only met one or none of the seven healthy habits.)
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America for both men and women. In 2008, it was responsible for nearly one in four deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Experts estimate that approximately 80 million Americans currently suffer from it and millions more are at risk of developing it.
Controlling blood pressure is a major key to heart health because it is a major risk factor for cardiovascular problems. It is known as the “silent killer” because there are no symptoms or warning signs. In fact, many people have it and don’t even know it. Could you be one of them? If high blood pressure is left untreated, it can result in cardiovascular conditions, heart attack, stroke, or death.
The good news is that controlling blood pressure is possible if you make positive lifestyle changes, such as the seven healthy habits that are listed below. By making these behaviors part of your everyday life, you can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular problems and improve your chances of living a longer, healthier life:
- Don’t smoke: With everything we know today about how bad smoking is for our health and how it causes an estimated 443,000 premature deaths in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC, it’s a wonder why anyone would want to take another puff off a cigarette again. But sadly, over 20% of Americans still do, according to the CDC. Smoking is considered the leading cause of preventable death and sickness in America. Smokers are two to four times more likely to develop heart conditions than non-smokers. If you quit smoking, you can cut your heart attack risk by 50%. Nicotine narrows the arteries and raises blood pressure. The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, so your heart has to pump harder in order to circulate more blood throughout your body. Smoking also increases your risk of blood clots. A pack-a-day smoker has twice the risk of having a heart attack than a non-smoker. So if you smoke, there’s no better time to quit than now! Try Healthy Choice Naturals Kick Your Nic! 7-day Stop Smoking Program. It’s an all-natural smoking cessation kit that is guaranteed to help you quit in seven days or you’ll get your money back.
- Get regular exercise: Maintaining an active lifestyle is one of the best things you can do for your health. Exercising regularly helps in controlling blood pressure, which is critical for your heart health. The CDC recommends that adults get at least 2 ½ hours of moderate to intense exercise per week as well as muscle-strength training at least twice a week.
- Controlling blood pressure levels in the normal range:Controlling blood pressure should be a priority for everyone. A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 (systolic over diastolic). The National Institutes of Health explains the systolic reading is the pressure “as the heart beats,” while the diastolic pressure is when the heart relaxes between heartbeats.A person is considered to have high blood pressure, or hypertension, with a systolic reading of 140-159 and a diastolic reading of 90-99.It’s a good idea to monitor your blood pressure at home by purchasing a blood pressure cuff. Plus, you should take proactive steps for controlling blood pressure naturally, such as eating a low-salt/low-fat diet with potassium-rich produce, exercising regularly, reducing stress, getting help if you have a snoring problem, cutting back on stimulants like caffeine, and taking a nutritional supplement such as Healthy Choice Naturals Blood Pressure Formula. It provides an all-natural synergistic blend of eight highly effective vitamins and seven herbs that are known to support optimum blood pressure levels and cardiovascular health.
- Maintain normal blood glucose levels: If you chronically have high glucose, which is a type of sugar in the blood, it can lead to kidney and blood vessel damage, according to WebMD. The hormone called insulin helps your cells utilize blood glucose. But if there isn’t enough insulin in your blood or your body can’t use it properly, your blood sugar levels may increase, which could lead to serious health problems such as diabetes. Have your blood glucose levels checked at your regular check-ups, or test it yourself at home with a home testing kit.
- Maintain normal cholesterol levels: High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease and other health issues. It causes plaque to build up in the blood vessels and causes hardening of arteries that feed into the heart. This can cut off vital blood circulation to the heart, causing the affected part of the heart to die and triggering a heart attack.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the optimal total cholesterol is 200mg or less of cholesterol per deciliter of blood. Borderline high is a total cholesterol level of 200 to 239mg per deciliter and high total cholesterol is 240mg or more of cholesterol per deciliter of blood.
- Maintain a healthy weight:Being overweight puts your health at risk for all kinds of ailments. Plus, it increases blood pressure and causes your heart to strain and work harder. It may also put you at a risk of type 2 diabetes. Take all the necessary steps to lose weight, if necessary, and strive to maintain a healthy weight.The CDC recommends calculating your BMI (a measurement of your percentage of body fat) to determine if you are overweight. According to the BMI chart, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered “normal” or healthy weight. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or higher is considered clinically obese.Your waist measurement can also be a good indicator if you are overweight. The CDC says men with a waist of 40 inches or more may be at risk for health problems associated with obesity. Women who are not pregnant with a waist measurement of 35 inches or more may be at risk of obesity health complications.
- Eat a healthy diet:Eating a diet that is low-fat, high-fiber, low-salt, low-sugar and low-cholesterol is a vitally important part of your health regimen. Make sure your diet plan includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fish. Include foods with Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, canola, flaxseed, soybeans, and walnuts. Experts recommend 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, at least 3 servings of whole grains per day and at least one serving of nuts or beans per day. Also, reduce your salt intake and drink alcohol in moderation.Limit your saturated fats intake to no more than 16 grams per day. Fatty foods are bad for your heart and circulatory system because they clog and harden arteries and lead to heart problems. Avoid foods such as fatty beef, pork, lamb, lard and cream, poultry with skin, cheese and butter. Liquid vegetable oils are better choices for your heart, except for tropical oils, because they contain non-saturated fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Use these types of oils to prepare your foods, and eliminate fast foods and processed foods from your diet since they are loaded with saturated and trans-fats, sugars, and other unhealthy ingredients.
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