1. QUIT SMOKING
One of the hardest things you could do, but well worth the effort. Tobacco contains a toxic mixture of more than 7,000 chemicals and has an immediate effect on your heart, raising your blood pressure and narrowing your blood vessels. Over time, smoking promotes clot formation and plaque buildup, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Do yourself and your valentine a favor, quit now. Ask your doctor how.
2. STOP SNORING
Not all people who snore suffer from sleep apnea, but many do, and sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. If you snore, talk to you doctor about whether it could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. This can often be confirmed with a sleep study.
3. LIMIT ALCOHOL USE
Excessive alcohol use can lead to high blood pressure, which puts a strain on your heart. Drink in moderation, if you’re going to drink at all. That means, no more than 1 drink a day for women, and up to 2 drinks a day for men.
4. EAT A HEALTHY DIET
Treat your heart to heart-healthy antioxidants by eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables and a handful of nuts a day. Also reduce your cholesterol by avoiding saturated fats, and lower your blood pressure by reducing your salt intake. Your heart will thank you.
5. MAINTAIN AN IDEAL WEIGHT
Could you stand to lose a few (or many) pounds? Most of us are overweight and our hearts are feeling the strain. Talk to you doctor or nutritionist about how to lose the weight and keep it off, and avoid those popular fad diets and weight loss supplements.
6. DON’T BE A COACH POTATO
Regular exercise can help you maintain your weight, lower your cholesterol and lower your blood pressure. Most adults should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week.
7. HAVE YOUR CHOLESTEROL CHECKED
High cholesterol leads to heart disease, and you won’t know you have high cholesterol unless you have it checked by your doctor. Most people should have the simple blood test done every 5 years.
8. MONITOR YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
Like high cholesterol, you probably won’t know you have high blood pressure unless you have it checked. That’s why it’s often called the “silent killer”. Most adults should have it measured every 1-2 years. And if your doctor tells you to take medication, please take it every day.
9. CONTROL YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you need to keep your blood sugar levels in check to protect your heart and other organs. Take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor and do your best to maintain a normal blood sugar.
10. MANAGE YOUR STRESS
Chronic stress has been linked to heart disease, whether through direct effects on the heart or indirectly by increasing blood pressure and cholesterol. Keep your stress at bay through exercise, meditation, relaxation techniques or counseling.
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