Keeping Your Heart Healthy and Strong

Earlier this week, the American Heart Association published their 2016 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update, a report that has been produced every year since 1958. Here are the most important facts provided in this research, and what you can do to keep your heart healthy.

  • In 2013, there were over 800 thousand American deaths due to cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke.
  • The same year, 750 thousand experienced a heart attack, 16% of whom died as a result.
  • 1 in 3 U.S. adults do not engage in physical activity outside of work.
  • Nearly 10% of Americans has diabetes, while over a third have pre-diabetes.

The American Heart Association has also come up with a list of 7 factors to maintain cardiovascular health, which they refer to as Life’s Simple 7. Below are the best ways through which you can keep your heart healthy:

  1. Manage blood pressure: Keep your blood pressure within a healthy range and actively monitor the numbers.
  2. Control cholesterol: The higher your cholesterol, the more artery-clogging plaque is formed. Keep your cholesterol low and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by avoiding consumption of “bad” fats that raise LDL cholesterol.
  3. Reduce blood sugar: High blood sugar levels can cause damage to your heart and kidneys. Talk to your doctor to set goals and monitor your blood sugar. Avoid artificial sweeteners altogether.
  4. Get active: A study published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine examined the role of fitness and long-term outcomes, and found that staying active in early adulthood is positively linked to long-term cardiovascular benefits. If you are able to do so – intense bursts of physical exercise are better than just walking or jogging for hours on end. Check with an experienced physical trainer for best results and more information.
  5. Eat better: Choosing a heart-healthy diet gives you a much better chance of avoiding cardiovascular disease. Stay away from excess fats and sugar, and make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Concentrated juices are not good for you despite public opinion – so you may want to do away with all those cartons of OJ in your fridge. They’ll just pile up your blood sugars. Processed foods and meats are just as bad – better to go organic and fresh. Minimize consumption of sodas (including diet ones) – sodas are a surefire way to get fat. Drink water instead (assuming it’s clean / filtered).
  6. Lose weight: If you’re carrying too much weight, you’re putting pressure on your joints, heart, and lungs. It’s crucial to stay active and maintain a healthy weight. Keep in mind that if you don’t do focused physical exercise at least on an every other day basis, you will likely gain weight over time (for those over 40). The metabolism slows down in a big way as you get older. Also keep in mind that alcohol consumption significantly slows the metabolism for at least 24 hours. So keep that in mind while you sip on your nightly wine at dinner.
  7. Stop smoking: Smokers have a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

It’s important to stay aware of and maintain factors that contribute to your cardiovascular health. An additional step towards prevention is to get a heart scan to examine your coronary arteries for plaque, especially if you have more risk factors. These scans are getting more popular and more widely available. ZendyHealth can help you save between 20-60% on the retail cost of a heart scan.

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