Your needs and requirements for a healthy heart can change over time. Work closely with your healthcare practitioner to identify any warning signs.
High blood pressure and cholesterol levels, for instance, provide early warning signs for heart disease and heart attack.
Your healthcare practitioner can track these and other problems with regular blood work. Some, like high blood pressure, provide no signs or symptoms. Be proactive and check yours regularly at your local grocery store or pharmacy.
Along with regular checkups, what you do on a daily basis best ensures a healthy heart free of disease. Staying fit and lean is your best strategy to reduce your risk for many conditions that lead to heart disease.
You can support a healthy heart in your 40s, 50s, and beyond with these 10 strategies.
1. Eat heart-supporting foods. What you eat creates a powerful foundation to keep your heart healthy.
- Green vegetables. One review of eight studies found those who ate leafy greens lowered their heart disease risk an impressive 16 percent.
- Berries provide antioxidants that protect against factors such as inflammation that contribute to heart disease.
- Healthy plant fats like avocados provide nutrients including dietary fiber and potassium to support heart health.
- The healthy fatty acids in wild-caught, cold-water fish can help lower fasting blood sugar, blood pressure, and factors that can lower your risk of heart disease.
2. Find your healthy weight and maintain it. If you’re overweight or obese, you have a higher risk of health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Losing just 10 pounds can improve those conditions and lower your risk of heart disease.
3. Get sufficient sleep. Not getting enough sleep can contribute to risk factors such as stress, inflammation, high blood pressure, and gaining weight that can take their toll on your heart. Aim for at least seven but more like eight or nine hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night.
4. Kick the habit and watch the alcohol. If you smoke, stop. Seek professional help if you need it. If you drink, limit alcoholic drinks to one (for women) or two (for men) daily. While red wine carries a “heart-healthy” image, too much can have the opposite effect.
5. Maintain oral hygiene. Taking care of your teeth can impact your heart. People with periodontal or gum disease oftentimes carry the same risk factors for heart disease. That’s because gum disease can move into your bloodstream and increase the inflammation that can contribute to heart disease. Brush and floss your teeth regularly. Schedule regular dental checkups, and discuss any specific concerns with your oral healthcare practitioner.
6. Keep stress levels in check. If you’ve felt stressed out and noticed your heart beating irregularly, you know how stress can impact your heart. Chronic stress can play a role in heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, and more. You can’t eliminate stress, but you can reduce its impact by learning to better manage it when it occurs. Deep breathing, mindfulness, and meditation are some of those ways to reduce stress’s impact on your heart and overall health.
7. Cultivate gratitude. Your mindset impacts your heart and so much more. Keeping a gratitude journal for just two weeks can improve sleep and blood pressure, both of which support a healthy heart. How you express gratitude is up to you. That might mean a phone call, keeping a journal, or texting three things you’re grateful for every morning to your gratitude partner.8. Move regularly. You need at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate movement weekly. That’s 30 minutes, five times a week. Make it fun! Brisk walking, skiing, and biking are all great exercises. If you’re a newbie, start slowly with 10 minutes of walking a few days every week.9. Sit less. Most of us sit a lot: At our desks, watching TV, and doing online research. Being sedentary too long can impact your heart and overall health. Set reminders if you need them to get up more often so you increase blood circulation. Stretch, do some yoga poses, or stroll over to your coworker’s desk. Your heart will thank you!
10. Get the right nutrients. Even with the healthiest diet, you might not be getting therapeutic amounts of certain nutrients to support heart health. A good vitamin supplement work synergistically to help improve circulation and blood flow, reduce inflammation, and boost energy so your whole body can run more efficiently.
When you live a heart-healthy lifestyle, you benefit in numerous ways that go beyond heart health. You have more energy and focus, you maintain stellar health, you feel confident, and you naturally reach your ideal weight.
You have the power to make those changes that support a healthy heart and healthy body at any age. What you eat, how you move, and the nutrients you take can create a strong foundation to keep your heart beating healthily and reduce your risk of heart disease.