5 Worst Things You Can Do to Your Heart
Although heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S., it's often an avoidable problem.
While some risk factors for heart disease, such as family history or age, can't be changed, there are many things you can do to prevent heart disease that aren't burdensome or complicated and will help you avoid using medication. Plus, the steps you take to maintain a healthy heart are good preventive measures for other serious illnesses, such as cancer, as well.
Here are five of the worst things you can do for your heart.
Every puff you take dramatically increases your chances for suffering a heart attack. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,800 chemicals, many of which can damage your heart and blood vessels, making them vulnerable to atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries).
2. Lack of regular exercise
Leading a sedentary lifestyle can result in atherosclerosis. Maintaining a regular exercise routine—at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity—most days of the week, can reduce your risk of suffering a fatal heart attack.
3. Eating a high-fat diet
Eating a diet high in saturated and trans fats raises cholesterol levels and puts you at risk for heart attack and stroke. To maintain a healthy heart, follow a diet that is low in fat, cholesterol, and salt and rich in fruits and vegetables (with a goal of between five and ten servings a day), whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Including foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, are also heart protective. Foods to eat very moderately include red meat, butter, cheese and milk, and very sparingly eat foods such as deep-fried fast foods, bakery products, packaged snack foods, margarines, and crackers.
4. Excessive drinking
Despite studies showing heart protective benefits of drinking red wine, excessive amounts of any alcohol—wine, beer, or hard liquor—can raise blood pressure and become a health hazard. Stick to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
5. Being overweight or obese
Excess pounds increase your chances for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Having a BMI (body mass index) of 25 or higher, puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke.
Stay Heart Healthy
Aging, genetics, and lifestyle choices all affect the health of your heart. To determine your risk factors for heart disease, ask your doctor to assess your risk factors and be sure to maintain regular health screenings, including blood pressure and cholesterol level tests.
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.