If you’re reading this, then it’s safe to say that you not only want to know more about heart health, but also ways to keep your ticker strong for many years to come.
Although everyone is different, there is an idea that your heart has an age that is not always correlated with your real age.
A “heart age” refers to the level of risk an individual is at for a stroke or heart attack. The age of your heart is generally affected by factors such as chronological age, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and lifestyle habits.
“The Heart Age Calculator (from the New York City Department of Health) is a tool that can help people understand their risk of a cardiovascular event by assessing known cardiac risk factors to estimate a person’s risk relative to a defined healthy range,” said Dr. Joy Gelbman, a cardiologist at Weill Cornell Medicine. “If the heart age is greater than a person’s current age, that indicates there is a high modifiable risk” of a cardiac event, she said.
According to National Institute on Aging, some signs that your heart may be aging are chest pain during physical activity, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and confusion. If you have any of these symptoms, you should be sure to meet with a cardiologist to make sure your heart function is up to par.
That said, there are ways to turn back the clock on your heart age with certain lifestyle changes and preventative measures you can implement at any stage of life. Here are some ways to keep your heart young, according to cardiologists:
Reduce your LDL cholesterol
First and foremost, you need to keep an eye on your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol.
According to Dr Norman LeporLos Angeles-based cardiologist, the higher your risk, the lower you want your LDL cholesterol (or “bad cholesterol”) to be.
“For most people, we like LDL levels to be below 100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) to prevent heart attacks and/or strokes,” Lepor said. “But in patients who have known heart disease, we now recommend an LDL cholesterol level of less than 70 mg/dL.”
Don’t know what your LDL cholesterol level is? The next time you go to the doctor, you can ask for a coronary scan to find out. This type of blood test is also quite common during routine medical exams.
The American Heart Association recommends that individuals exercise at least 150 minutes per week. “This includes aerobic and weight-bearing exercises such as using light dumbbells, walking or swimming,” Lepor said.
Dr. Nikki Bartcardiologist specializing in heart failure and heart transplants, noted that exercise can lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol levels and help maintain a healthy weight.
Any type of movement is healthy – it can even be walking, dancing, cleaning or gardening. Need motivation? Find yourself a workout buddy. This can help keep you accountable and even give you the opportunity to catch up with a friend at the same time.
Reduce your stress level
Whether you’re constantly stressed from work or a never-ending to-do list at home, you’ll want to find ways to manage your stress levels for the sake of your heart health. According to the American Heart Association, chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
You do not know where to start ? Exercise, meditation, and breathing exercises have been shown to help reduce stress levels and even increase endorphins. To get help with these and any other significant stressors in your life – related to finances or caregiving, for example – it might also be helpful to see a therapist. A mental health professional can give you the tools to help you manage your anxiety.
Eat nutritious foods
This doesn’t mean you can’t eat cake, but you’ll also want to supplement many of your meals with lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
“The Mediterranean diet, which includes a balance of oily fish, nuts and legumes, has been shown to be beneficial,” Bart said. “Another good rule of thumb is to have a ‘rainbow on your plate,’ with a diet rich in antioxidant-rich fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Additionally, Dr. Elizabeth Klodas, board-certified cardiologist and founder and chief medical officer of Step One Foods, recommended eating plenty of whole food fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and plant sterols. You can find them in foods like nuts, fish, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables (among many others).
Stop smoking and vaping
Smoking and vaping can be bad not only for your lungs, but also for your heart health, since you inhale chemicals when you do these activities.
“Many of them can constrict blood vessels, cause inflammation and affect blood pressure and heart rate,” Klodas said.
It may not seem like it at the moment, but the consequences of smoking invariably add up. If you have trouble quitting, there are resources and other types of help available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Get enough sleep
Most adults can get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Not only does sleep promote memory and growth, it can also help reduce the risk of diseases that can harm the heart.
According to Dr. Naga Pannala, cardiologist at ArchWell HealthGetting enough sleep has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity and high blood pressure, both of which are risk factors for poor heart health.
People who have trouble sleeping should consult a sleep medicine doctor to determine the root cause and provide viable treatment options.
Learn more about your genetics
While there are some factors (such as weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol) that you can actively change to help prevent heart failure, there are also “non-modifiable” factors based on genetics.
“If you have a first-degree relative (like a parent or sibling) who had a heart attack at a young age, that puts you at greater risk of the same thing happening to you,” Bart said . “It’s good to know this in advance because it means you can put additional measures in place to prevent this, such as seeing a cardiologist earlier for screening. »
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