10 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

10 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

The heart is a vital organ in the body and is needed to stay alive. It is important to take care of it to maintain a long, healthy life. There are a variety of ways to keep a strong heart, most of which are a part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Learn Family History
Family history is a large factor in heart health. If a you have a relative, such as a parent or sibling, who suffered a heart attack before the age of 60, and also a second-degree relative, like an aunt or uncle, who had a heart attack, you are 10 times more likely to suffer from a heart attack than someone who has no heart disease in their family, according to an interview with Dr. Emily Senay on CBS News. It is important to learn your family's heart history.

Healthy Diet
A diet high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids and limited in refined sugars and trans fats will lower cholesterol and contribute to a healthier heart. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can help control weight and blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. Eating fish, such as salmon, that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids will help lower the risk of death from coronary artery disease.

Take Vitamins
Vitamins are an essential part of maintaining heart health and contribute to the well being of the cardiovascular system. According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamins B6 and B12 help prevent clogged arteries. While many vitamin-rich foods may contain these, it is a good idea to at least take a daily multivitamin.

Limit Alcohol
In moderation, some studies have shown alcohol to increase good cholesterol, therefore being beneficial to the heart. However, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure and heart failure, according to the American Heart Association.

Not only will sleep improve your mood and ability to function, it is also increases heart health. According to U.S. News & World Report, there was a sleep study done with middle-aged adults, and those who got an extra hour of sleep at night had a lower risk for artery-clogging calcification that can lead to heart disease.

Reduce Stress
Life can become fast-paced and stressful all too easily, therefore, it is important to take time every day to relax. People who are in stressful situations have a tendency to not exercise, overeat or start smoking. Also, according to the American Heart Association, stress can be linked to high blood pressure.

Don't Smoke
Smoking can lead to a number of health issues, including heart disease. Your risk of heart disease increases drastically with the number of cigarettes smoked.

Control Weight
According to the American Heart Association, obesity can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance, all of which heighten the risk of cardiovascular disease. Having more fat, especially in the waist area, there is a higher risk for health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and heart attack. Someone is considered obese when her weight is 20 percent or more above the normal range.

Physical inactivity is a major risk for cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. Exercise increases heart rate and builds strength and endurance. It is important to exercise five times a week for about half an hour each time. However, it is also very important not to push your body too far, because that can result in adverse effects on the heart, such as high blood pressure.

Know Your Numbers
It is important to have routine doctor's visits to check numbers such as blood pressure and cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association, total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL and blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is the single largest risk factor for a stroke.