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Heart Health: Tips to Protect Your Ticker

By Natalie Jewell

OK, it's time to have a heart-to-heart about something, and that thing is cardiovascular disease. Also referred to as heart disease, it is among the top causes of death in America, so it's no joke. Although age and genetics are contributing factors that we can't control, we do have a say over something -- namely, our lifestyle. Our daily habits play a key role in whether or not we have a healthy heart or a sick one.

Here are some habits you should embrace to have the healthiest heart possible.

Don't Smoke

Don't ever start smoking and quit if you already do. Being one of the leading causes of heart disease, it causes narrowing of the arteries and a buildup of a fatty substance called plaque. This can lead to hardening of the arteries and heart attack. Smoking also damages your organs and increases your blood pressure. Your risk of heart disease can go down significantly soon after you quit smoking, so don't ever think it's too late to bother.

Eat Well

Nourishing your body with heart-healthy food is extremely important when it comes to heart-disease prevention. Your diet should include foods such as fruit, vegetables, lean meats, beans and legumes, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and flaxseed, provide protection to your heart. Avoid foods that are fried, processed, high in fat, sugar, and sodium, and drink alcohol in moderation.

Get Moving

Exercising daily, even if it's just going for a 30-minute walk. It can go a long way toward keeping yourself healthy. It helps you control your weight and lowers your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, which are things, if left untreated, can strain your heart.

Reduce Stress

Being continuously under pressure can cause headaches and high blood pressure, as well as wreak havoc on the quality of your sleep. This makes your heart have to work harder. Also, when we are stressed, we tend to make poor choices that affect our heart, such as reaching for a cigarette, eating junk food, or skipping out on exercise. Those are things we want to avoid. Make time to do things that you enjoy and that help you relax, such as yoga, playing an instrument, reading, or spending time with friends.

Have Regular Checkups

Seeing your doctor for routine exams can help catch any health issues before they cause too much trouble. You should get weighed, have your heart listened to, your blood pressure checked, and go for health screenings for such things as diabetes and high cholesterol. If your doctor recommends lifestyle changes, prescribes medication, or wants you to go to a specialist for additional tests, follow his or her orders.

So, don't lose heart. With the right habits, you can keep your heart beating strong and for a long time.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Cypress, Tex.  


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