Heart disease is one of the number one killers of Americans – both men and women. Therefore, no serious discussion of overall health can be had without mentioning the importance of a healthy heart. Below are seven things that everyone should know about promoting it.
Adequate sleep translates into powerful protection for the heart. In fact, those who get 6 hours of sleep or less at night have three times the risk of developing heart disease as those who get 7 or 8. For one thing, lack of sleep causes a spike in blood sugar levels and possible weight gain due to increased insulin resistance; weight gain can, in turn, lead to the development of cardiac disease.
Little Things Mean a Lot
Studies have shown that if those who are overweight or obese can lose as little as 10-15% of their body weight, heart health can be significantly improved. The best way to do this is a healthy diet combined with regular aerobic exercise to strengthen the heart and reduce both cholesterol and blood pressure.
The Best Medicine
As the saying suggests, laughter truly is the best medicine. It can cause a drop in cortisol levels, and lowering this “fight or flight” hormone strengthens the immunity and reduces blood pressure while at the same time elevating the mood. Mood elevation is important for heart health, as it has been shown that those with depression are nearly twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who report feelings of happiness or contentment.
A glass of red wine a day promotes heart health due to its potent anti-oxidant properties which protect the delicate blood vessels around the heart and also help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. If alcohol is drunk to excess, however, it can actually cause heart problems due to issues like hypertension and high triglyceride levels.
Make Love, not War
Sex is one of the most natural (and enjoyable) ways to improve heart health. Studies have shown that a regular sex life is associated with lower blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiac disease. This might be why recent research has found a link between a decreased risk in heart disease and sex at least twice a week.
Snoring a Possible Red Flag
Chronic snoring can be a possible red flag for developing heart disease. This is because it can often be a sign of a condition called sleep apnea, where breathing actually stops throughout the night and inadequate oxygen levels can result. This can put stress on the heart and lead to cardiac disease if left untreated.
Reduce the Salt
When most people look at food labels, they often look at calories and fat, but sodium is just as important, and most Americans still get far too much of it in their diet. Over-consumption is linked to high blood pressure and also strains the heart, making it more susceptible to disease.
These are all things to keep in mind when striving to live a healthy lifestyle. A balanced diet, regular exercise, a healthy sex life and adequate sleep, among others, are all lifestyle changes that can lead to a heart that is both happy and healthy.