By making small lifestyle modifications, you can reduce your risk for heart disease. Not only will these improvements extend your life expectancy but they’ll also give you a higher quality of life.

Risk factors for heart disease and stroke include age, smoking and certain health conditions like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Many of these can be managed through healthy nutrition and regular exercise regimens.

1. Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating healthily is one of the most effective strategies for reducing your risk for heart disease. Eating right can help you maintain a healthy weight, regulate your blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and keep glucose levels balanced.

Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats is recommended. Limit your consumption of saturated and trans fats (solid fats found in fatty meats and full-fat dairy products), sugar, sodium and alcohol as well.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. Not only does it increase energy levels, but it can also improve memory, mood and performance.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should aim for seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

People who do not get enough sleep have an increased likelihood of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Good sleep habits can help prevent or delay many of these conditions. A recent study suggests that 7 out of 10 cardiovascular issues could be prevented with regular, quality sleep.

3. Stay Active

Staying active and fit is not only beneficial for your heart, but it can also lift your mood, promote sound sleep, and reduce stress levels.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, daily physical activity is one of the best ways to lower your risk for chronic or life-threatening diseases.

To stay healthy, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week. You can do this by going for a walk, riding your bike or doing chores around the house like mowing lawn or vacuuming.

4. Quit Smoking

Smokers, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your heart health. It will help prevent heart disease and other serious conditions.

Additionally, exercising can lower your likelihood of suffering a stroke or heart attack.

To successfully quit smoking, it’s beneficial to make a plan ahead of time. Consider attending a stop-smoking class, using a self-help plan, or speaking with your doctor about available medications and counseling for this purpose.

Quitting smoking can be challenging, but it’s achievable. The key is having a valid reason for quitting and being prepared for potential difficulties such as withdrawal symptoms or intense cravings for cigarettes.

5. Manage Your Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), the first step to take is checking it regularly with a home monitor. Once you know your numbers, you can start making changes to keep them within healthy ranges.

If your numbers are higher than normal, medication may be necessary. These drugs work in conjunction with healthy lifestyle changes to help address any underlying issues.

To reduce blood pressure, consume less salt and saturated fat, as well as more potassium from fruits, veggies, nuts and legumes. Also cut back on alcohol consumption, quit smoking cigarettes, and increase physical activity.

6. Manage Your Cholesterol

One of the most effective ways to prevent heart disease is managing your cholesterol. Your doctor may suggest a variety of lifestyle measures and medications that can help lower your levels.

Eating a nutritious diet that’s low in saturated fat and high in dietary fibre (such as oats, nuts and seeds) can be beneficial. Limiting foods high in sugar or refined carbohydrates (like snack cakes, French fries and biscuits) will also be beneficial.

Altering your eating habits doesn’t have to be a daunting task or take up much time. Start small and work towards greater goals as you go along.

7. Get Regular Checkups

Regular visits to your doctor’s office can help you stay on top of your health and detect potential issues before they progress into serious illnesses.

Many illnesses don’t manifest symptoms for years, so getting diagnosed early can improve your chances of recovery and maximize the success of treatment.

That is why it is essential to visit your doctor annually for a checkup.

A standard or routine checkup typically involves a physical exam, blood test and other screening tests to assess your heart, lung, digestive system, kidney and liver functions.

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