8 Heart Essentials

Steed From North Carolina Writes:

I am 38 years young and I have a strong family history of heart disease. My doctor says I should eat healthy and exercise. I understand that, but what else can I do to make sure I stay ahead of any potential heart issues?

Dear Steed,

It’s great to hear that you want to stay ahead of the game with your health. Heart disease is now the No. 1 leading cause of death in the United States. The CDC says that heart disease claims about 600,000 lives each year with more women than men dying of heart disease. Regardless of your age, certain genetic factors may come into play around 15-20%, however how efficiently the heart can deliver oxygen is the key to maintaining great energy, youth, and vitality. Here re some basic steps to help you stay ahead of the game and on top of optimal heart health.

1.Know Your Vitals
What is your cholesterol number? Don’t just accept the doctor telling you it’s normal; ask for a copy of your results. The numbers should be under 200 total. The LDL (bad) cholesterol should be under 100 and the HDL (good) cholesterol should be above 50. Your blood pressure should be hovering around 120/80. Also don’t forget to check your heart rate and rhythm. Your resting heart rate should be between 60-100 and if you’re an athlete around 40. 

Also check for inflammation. Your doctor can get you a blood test for Cardio CRP. It is a simple test that checks for general cardiac and body inflammation. Less than 1 is risk is very low, 1-3 is an intermediate risk, and above 3 is a higher risk.

2.Detox Your Breathing
Most statistics say that 80-90% of heart disease is caused by our lifestyle choices. Guard your environment. Avoid smoking and toxins in the air for preventing premature aging of the arteries. Spend more time outdoors in the fresh air, and consider home air purification systems. 

3.Increase Exercise
Getting regular exercise helps people to live longer. The reason is that it helps reduce the fat plaguing in the arteries. It helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Even if the heart is not conditioned, Aim for 20 minutes per day as a goal. Even if the heart is not conditioned well, over time it will adapt and can increase longevity.

4.Eliminate Processed Foods
The processed foods contain trans fats and sugars that can wreak havoc on the cardiovascular system. The simple sugars can raise blood pressure and triglycerides, and lower the good cholesterol (HDl). Your CRP blood test can determine what your inflammatory marker is. Consider adding fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and fish to support reducing inflammation. 

5.Eat More Fat
Yes that’s what I said. Fats don’t make you fat, the right fats can actually improve overall heart health. Aim for about 30% of your diet in the healthy fats such as avocado, olive, grape seed, coconut, and fish oils.

6.Get Your Sleep
The right amount of sleep has been shown to help overall heart function. When we sleep, our heart rate slows down and our blood pressure drops. The new studies say that 7 hours of sleep is ideal for reducing heart disease and less than that or sleeping too long can increase it almost 10 times.

7.Moderation Is The Key
With alcohol this is definitely the case. Daily alcohol can be very stressful to the heart. Yes, even wine. Studies tell us that aiming for about 2 drinks per ay for women and about 3 for men. Go easy on the alcohol. It can lead to challenging issues such as atrial fibrillation. 

8.Manage The Stress
This is the tough one. Life can be full of stress. Women who go through tough life experiences are up to 12 times more likely to have a heart attack. Look at stress reducing activities like yoga, tai chi, and even meditation and prayer.