5 steps you can take now to support your heart health

February is American Heart Month. Considering cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 cause of death for both men and women in the United States, Heart Month serves as an important reminder for all of us to prioritize cardiovascular health. The good news is that you can take action in your daily habits to prevent heart disease. Even if cardiovascular disease runs in your family, a healthy lifestyle is likely more impactful than inherited risk.

Here are five steps you can take to support your heart health right now.

1. Stay up to date with your medical care

Prevention and management of conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and weight concerns is key to preventing heart disease. Regular checkups with your physician and knowing your lab and blood pressure numbers can help you manage potential contributors that increase risk for heart disease.

2. Prioritize potassium-rich foods

Consuming foods rich in potassium can help support healthy blood flow and blood pressure management. You can boost your intake of potassium with fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. Some of the best sources of potassium include dark green leafy vegetables, oranges, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, avocados and bananas to name a few. Include these foods every day.

3. Break bad habits

Unfortunately, some everyday habits can be detrimental for heart health. These include smoking, drinking alcohol in excess and neglecting dental care. If you are struggling with overcoming bad habits, reach out to your physician or a therapist who can help you with the tools and skills needed to achieve your goals.

4. Move your body daily

Inactivity is a major contributor to heart disease even when no other risk factors are present. Plus, not moving enough can increase other risk factors for heart disease like type 2 diabetes and obesity. Aerobic exercise like swimming, biking, brisk walking, tennis and dancing are fantastic for your heart. If it’s been a while since you’ve exercised, speak to your doctor before you resume a new exercise plan.

5. Practice gratitude and stress reduction

Having a grateful heart may just be the best medicine. According to recent studies, having a grateful mindset is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. It seems that gratitude promotes both healthful behaviors and improves biomarkers related to cardiovascular disease risk. Journaling and meditation, for example, can help cultivate feelings of gratitude. Overall, practicing gratitude can help guard against the negative physiological consequences of life’s stresses, potentially protecting the heart.

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